US-based Ventus Therapeutics has signed an exclusive global development and licensing deal worth up to $703m with Novo Nordisk for its peripherally-restricted NLRP3 inhibitors.

NLRP3 belongs to a family of proteins called inflammasome receptors. It is said to have a key role in the formation of the NLRP3 inflammasome.

Through the deal, Novo Nordisk will gain exclusive global rights to develop and commercialise Ventus Therapeutics’ NLRP3 inhibitor programme for a variety of diseases. These include nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) as well as chronic kidney disease and other cardiometabolic conditions.

Novo Nordisk global drug discovery senior vice president Karin Conde-Knape said: “NLRP3 is a biologically relevant target with significant potential across a number of liver, kidney, and cardiometabolic diseases.

“Ventus has developed a highly differentiated NLRP3 inhibitor program with best-in-class properties and compelling pre-clinical results. We are excited to partner with Ventus to advance this program to provide meaningful clinical benefit to patients within a broad range of diseases.”

As per the terms of the deal, the Danish pharma firm will pay Ventus Therapeutics an upfront cash payment of $70m in cash as well as provide funds for research and development.

Ventus Therapeutics will also be qualified for further payments of up to $633m, which are contingent on clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones apart from payments for royalties.

Ventus Therapeutics CEO and president Marcelo Bigal said: “This is an important collaboration for Ventus that validates our structural biology capabilities to discover and develop highly differentiated molecules with novel chemical structures.

“We believe Novo Nordisk is the ideal partner to advance our lead NLRP3 program in a broad range of systemic disease areas in which they have deep expertise, such as cardiometabolic diseases.”

Under the terms of the deal, Ventus Therapeutics will retain full rights to its brain-penetrant NLRP3 inhibitor programme. It will also have the rights to develop NLRP3 inhibitors for some systemic conditions such as specific inflammatory and respiratory diseases among others.

In February this year, Ventus Therapeutics secured $140m from a Series C financing round to advance its drug discovery and development platform, ReSOLVE.