Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk has entered a research collaboration with Flagship Pioneering and Metaphore Biotechnologies to develop two next-generation therapeutics for obesity management.

Metaphore is a biotechnology company that designs novel therapeutics by combining machine learning and molecular mimicry, founded by Flagship Pioneering Medicines.

Flagship is a US-based biotechnology company that invents and builds platform companies, and Pioneering Medicines is its in-house drug development and partnerships unit.

The collaboration is part of a broader strategic partnership between Novo Nordisk and Flagship to develop a portfolio of novel treatment approaches for cardiometabolic and rare diseases.

Under the collaboration, Metaphore will work jointly with Pioneering Medicines.

Novo Nordisk will advance the programs` preclinical development through foundational activities and will further develop the programs, progressing them into clinical studies.

The Danish drugmaker will pay up to $600m in upfront, development and commercial milestone payments, along with tiered royalties on annual net sales of licensed products.

The company will also reimburse R&D costs and participate in future financing for Metaphore.

Novo Nordisk Bio Innovation Hub head Uli Stilz said: “Through our collaboration with Metaphore we will apply a novel machine-learning approach to obesity management, an area that continues to need more innovation.

“Metaphore`s platform aims to mimic the interactions between molecules with impressive accuracy by capturing their natural dynamics at the point of interface, potentially leading to therapeutics that require infrequent dosing.

“Our strategic framework with Flagship Pioneering continues to illustrate the value of partnerships in bringing forward disruptive technologies for therapeutic areas with unmet need.”

The collaboration will use Metaphore’s MIMIC platform for the discovery and development of up to two multitarget therapeutics leveraging GLP-1R and related biology for obesity management.

The MIMIC platform provides a unique therapeutic design solution focusing on pharmacophores, a key set of features that keep a drug and its target interacting.

It intends to systematically isolate a pharmacophore with single amino acid resolution, design a molecular mimic, and optimise the molecule with fine-tuned therapeutic properties.

Furthermore, Metaphore is the third Flagship-founded company to advance research programs under the strategic partnership between Novo Nordisk and Flagship Pioneering.

Earlier this year, the biotechnology company announced programs with Omega Therapeutics and Cellarity.

Flagship Pioneering origination partner and Metaphore co-founder and CEO Lovisa Afzelius said: “Working with Novo Nordisk is a significant opportunity to apply our MIMIC platform in one of the most exciting areas of drug development and with one of the most experienced drug development teams working in obesity.

“This collaboration could further validate our unique ability to program function into therapeutic molecules with the MIMIC platform to enhance efficacy, extend durability, and optimise manufacturing for a single therapeutic addressing multiple obesity-related targets, including but not limited to the GLP-1 receptor.”