Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk has agreed to acquire German biotechnology company Cardior Pharmaceuticals for a total of up to €1.025bn.

The acquisition consideration includes an upfront payment and additional milestone payments contingent on achieving certain development and commercial milestones.

Cardior is engaged in the discovery and development of therapies that target RNA to prevent, repair and reverse diseases of the heart.

Its therapeutic approach targets distinctive non-coding RNAs as a platform for addressing root causes of cardiac dysfunctions to achieve lasting patient impact.

The acquisition includes Cardior’s lead candidate CDR132L, which is currently in phase 2 clinical development for the treatment of heart failure.

It is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year, subject to receipt of applicable regulatory approvals and other customary conditions.

Novo Nordisk development executive vice president Martin Holst Lange said: “By welcoming Cardior as a part of Novo Nordisk, we will strengthen our pipeline of projects in cardiovascular disease where we already have ongoing programmes across all phases of clinical development.

“We have been impressed by the scientific work carried out by the Cardior team, especially on CDR132L, which has a distinctive mode of action and potential to become a first-in-class therapy designed to halt or partially reverse the course of disease for people living with heart failure.”

Novo Nordisk aims to create a portfolio of therapies to address the significant unmet needs within cardiovascular disease, the most common cause of death globally.

The company said that the acquisition of Cardior will support its strategy to establish a presence in cardiovascular disease.

Cardior’s CDR132L is designed to halt and partially reverse cellular pathology by selectively blocking abnormal levels of the microRNA molecule miR-132, to improve heart function.

In a Phase 1b study, CDR132L was reported to be safe and well tolerated and the results suggested cardiac functional improvements in people with heart failure compared to placebo.

The drug is currently being evaluated in the Phase 2 HF-REVERT trial in 280 people with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) who have previously suffered a heart attack.

Novo Nordisk said that it will begin a second Phase 2 trial that will investigate CDR132L in a chronic heart failure population with cardiac hypertrophy.

Cardiac hypertrophy is a condition that makes the walls of the heart muscle become thick and stiff, affecting the heart’s ability to pump blood.

Cardior CEO and co-founder Claudia Ulbrich said: “This acquisition is a reflection of CDR132L’s transformative potential as a disease-modifying therapy for heart failure.

“Novo Nordisk is the ideal partner based on its deep clinical and commercial expertise combined with its resources to accelerate our late-stage development programme, including through larger registrational studies.”