Novo, e-therapeutics extend Type 2 diabetes research pact to include new genomics tech

Novo Nordisk
Using data from genomewide association studies, the two companies hope to map out the genetic variants that correlate with the different phenotypes seen in Type 2 diabetes. (Novo Nordisk)

Novo Nordisk and e-therapeutics have opted to extend their drug discovery collaboration launched last December in Type 2 diabetes to incorporate a new approach to genomic data.

The amended research agreement is the first for e-therapeutics’ recently developed Genome-Associated Interaction Networks platform, or GAINs, which analyzes genetic information at the population level.

The two companies had previously employed e-therapeutics’ Network-Driven Drug Discovery system, out of Novo Nordisk’s Oxford, U.K. research center, for a “specific area” of Type 2 diabetes. That method creates digital models of protein interactions and posits the potential effects of different drugs—as well as how mechanisms of disease relate across the system—to provide additional therapeutic targets.

Now, using GAINs, the two hope to identify and map out genetic variants in single nucleotide pairs that correlate with different phenotypic traits seen in Type 2 diabetes—such as HbA1c values, hypoglycemia risk and diabetic complications—using data from genomewide association studies. E-therapeutics says its networks can help develop new intervention strategies as well as provide biomarkers for diagnostics or patient stratification.

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“Over the last 20 years, the pharma industry has conducted many population genomics studies to understand the genetic basis of disease, most of which have met with limited success,” e-therapeutics CEO Ray Barlow said in a statement.

“Using GAINs, we are now able to interrogate genomics data from patients with complex, polygenic disease and shed new light on important and novel biological pathways for particular groups of patients,” Barlow added. “We only began to market GAINs to the industry two months ago and are encouraged by the interest already shown.”

The overall terms of the deal remain unchanged, save for new payments and a six-month extension of the previous yearlong collaboration to June 2020, with Novo Nordisk retaining the option to license work generated from the partnership. The additional financial details were not disclosed.