Jun 15, 2020

Why Novo Nordisk is buying biotech firm Corvidia

Health
diabetes
Cardiovascular
Biotech
William Smith
2 min
Danish pharmaceutical multinational Novo Nordisk has announced it is to acquire the Massachusetts-based Corvidia Therapeutics
Danish pharmaceutical multinational Novo Nordisk has announced it is to acquire the Massachusetts-based Corvidia Therapeutics...

Danish pharmaceutical multinational Novo Nordisk has announced it is to acquire the Massachusetts-based Corvidia Therapeutics.

Novo Nordisk specialises in diabetes medications, while Corvidia is a clinical-stage company focused on R&D for cardio-renal diseases.

Novo Nordisk said its interest was spurred by a desire to expand its capabilities for cardiovascular disease, which is linked to its core business of diabetes and obesity. The relationship between obesity and cardiovascular disease is well documented, with the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic bringing a renewed focus on the increased risks to health caused by obesity in general.

Corvidia is developing a pharmaceutical known as ziltivekimab to reduce the risk of heart attacks in those suffering from chronic kidney disease. The medication is currently being evaluated in medical trials.

In a press release, Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, executive vice president and chief science officer of Novo Nordisk, said: “We believe that ziltivekimab has the potential to become a first- and best-in-class treatment to lower the burden of cardiovascular disease in a patient population that is at high risk of major adverse cardiovascular events.”

Novo Nordisk said that under the terms of the agreement, it would acquire all of Corvidia’s outstanding shares for $725mn, but that total payments could amount to $2.1bn pursuant to regulatory and sales milestones.

”This acquisition recognises the important scientific work Corvidia has been doing over the last five years in cardio-renal diseases with a focus on inflammation,” said Marc de Garidel, chief executive officer of Corvidia Therapeutics. “In Novo Nordisk, we have found a partner that has deep expertise in cardiometabolic disease, a proven track record of success in conducting cardiovascular outcomes trials (CVOT), and the infrastructure to accelerate the development of ziltivekimab in order to help patients who need it most.”

The deal remains subject to the end of a waiting period and other usual conditions.

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Jul 28, 2021

5 mins with... Johannes Bhakdi, Quantgene

COVID19
Genomics
AI
biotechnology
3 min
5 mins with... Johannes Bhakdi, Quantgene
Johannes Bhakdi, CEO of Quantgene, tells us about their approach to identifying new COVID-19 variants

Quantgene is a US biotech company that uses AI and the cloud to do genomic testing. It was founded in 2015 to focus on cancer - integrating advanced genomics and molecular diagnostics systems with the cloud and AI systems. 

CEO Johannes Bhakdi tells us Quantgene is the first COVID-19 testing company to fully integrate variant identification - we find out more. 

Given the new Delta and Lambda variants, is the coronavirus mutating at a faster rate than most viruses?
 
The reason SARS-COV2 is mutating on a perceived higher rate is not that the individual viruses mutate at a higher rate, but that the base population infected with the virus is vastly higher. The absolute rate of global mutations is a direct function of how many people have the virus at any given point in time. Since this is a global pandemic, and tens of millions have been infected, we see more mutations. 

That makes it more unpredictable, because any single mutation that has an evolutionary advantage - like the Delta variant - can then take over and spread even faster.  

What is the usual process for testing and analysing viral mutations? 

The most effective tool for analysing mutations is Whole Viral Genome sequencing. It allows you to read out the entire genome of the virus. Once the wet-lab sequencing is complete, we use this information to map it against what is called a "reference genome", meaning the classic SARS-COV2 genome. This allows us to then see any differences between the investigated sample and the baseline genome of SARS COV2. 

We then use these differences to map them against a database of known mutations, like the Delta variant. That way we can see if we are dealing with any known variant, and if we have a new variant at our hands, as well as determine what this new variant does to the spike protein and how likely it is to be a problem with antigens and vaccines, based on the changed protein structure. This last step is not easy and not clear-cut, and there is some speculation into the determination of how problematic the mutated proteins are. 

 What does Quantgene do differently?  

At Quantgene, we are focusing on solving problems for our clients - may it be employers, movie productions or governments. That means we ensure that our client gets the COVID protection they need in the fastest possible time frame and at the highest precision possible - mostly at or below market prices. 

We are bringing together technologies like RT-PCR testing and mutation profiling/sequencing, as well as advanced bioinformatics and computational resources to ensure high-quality results are being delivered seamlessly. 

We are also adding important components such as real-time cloud software and medical services to it. Simply put, we turn the COVID problem into a one-click seamless solution that works better than others, so companies and government clients don't have to deal with laboratories, medical or software providers who point fingers at each other and fail to deliver in time and with high precision. COVID is too dangerous and important to risk falling short.     

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