Obesity is characterised by excessive fat accumulation caused by an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. It is associated with health impairment and is a major risk factor for chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. By 2025, the cost of treating obesity-related complications is expected to reach 1.2 trillion US dollars globally, and while obesity is traditionally considered a 'first world problem', its prevalence in low- and middle-income countries is increasing dramatically1.
Despite these impacts on individuals and healthcare systems, obesity is rarely acknowledged as a serious chronic disease and treatment options remain limited. At Novo Nordisk, we are committed to changing this situation, and our scientists are working relentlessly to develop new medicines that target the unmet needs of people living with this complex disease.
“I’ve spent 40 years trying to lose weight… and I’ve failed for 40 years”.
Angela Atlas is living with obesity
Obesity follows the first law of thermodynamics. If energy consumed as calories in food is not expended during physical activity, it becomes stored in the body as fat. During weight loss, changes in the hormones involved in homeostatic regulation trigger the body to conserve energy2,3. For people with obesity, this means that their body resists weight loss, and overcoming this sophisticated defence mechanism requires long-term treatment.
Starting in 2018, Novo Nordisk and New York biotech company Kallyope have entered a research collaboration to pursue and discover novel protein and peptide therapeutics for obesity and diabetes. Central to this research is Kallyope’s unique platform for interrogating the gut-brain axis.
“Coupling Novo Nordisk’s formidable capabilities with Kallyope’s unique, sophisticated platform makes for a very attractive strategic collaboration that complements our small molecule focus.”
CEO of Kallyope
The scientists at our research centres in Seattle (USA) and Måløv (DK) are collaborating with academia, biotech companies and other pharmaceutical companies on an expanding pipeline of novel innovative treatments for people with obesity. We are currently seeking partners to collaborate on:
Obesity is associated with more than 200 complications4, a number of which are focus areas for Novo Nordisk, including diabetes, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and cardiovascular diseases. A clinically relevant weight loss of 5–10% is associated with improvements in obesity-related complications5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12, and additional weight loss is likely to further improve or reduce the risk of specific complications13,14.
“What we learned from the ACTION study is that patients and doctors often have unrealistic expectations about the weight loss that can be achieved with current treatment options. Disappointment from both sides is therefore inevitable when the patient achieves a 5–10% weight loss. If we can develop products that can meet their expectations, patients are more likely to adhere to their treatment. In the next few years, our dream is to develop a treatment that basically does what bariatric surgery does – but in a simple once-weekly injection.”
Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen
Chief Scientific Officer
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