Prior to the open of U.S. markets today, biopharmaceutical company, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:DRNA), which utilizes RNA interference (RNAi) to create medicines that silence or turn off the genes that cause or contribute to diseases, announced that it entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Novo Nordisk (NVO:NYSE) for $38.25 per share in cash.
The company stated that the price represents a total equity value of US$3.3 billion and is 80% higher than the closing price of Dicerna's shares on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. The report indicated that the Boards of Directors at both companies have already approved the transaction.
The company noted that the two firms formed a research collaboration in 2019 in order to discover and develop RNAi therapies employing Dicerna's GalXC™ RNAi platform technology. The company claimed that "its RNAi technology platform enables access to intracellular disease targets across hepatic and extrahepatic cell and tissue types, complementing Novo Nordisk's existing technology platforms."
The report mentioned that since the partnership was established, "the collaboration between Novo Nordisk and Dicerna encompassed the exploration of more than 30 liver cell targets with the potential to deliver multiple clinical candidates for disorders including chronic liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), type 2 diabetes, obesity and rare diseases."
Based upon the results obtained from the joint development work performed, Novo Nordisk is now planning to proceed with clinical studies in 2022 for the first investigational RNAi therapeutic developed as a result of collaboration.
Novo Nordisk's EVP and Chief Scientific Officer Marcus Schindler stated, "The acquisition of Dicerna accelerates Novo Nordisk's research within RNAi and expands the usage of the RNAi technology…We build on our successful collaboration and by combining Dicerna's state-of-the-art RNAi drug engine and intracellular delivery with our deep capabilities in disease biology understanding and tissue targeting through peptides and proteins we have the potential to expand our pipeline and deliver life-changing precision medicines for people living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and NASH, as well as rare diseases like endocrine disorders and bleeding disorders."
Dicerna Pharmaceuticals' Founder, President and CEO Douglas Fambrough, Ph.D., commented, "Since the start of our collaboration two years ago, the Dicerna and Novo Nordisk teams have established a strong rapport built on a foundation of mutual respect for one another's capabilities, culture and expertise…The combination of Dicerna's expertise in RNAi and oligonucleotide therapeutics and highly skilled employees with Novo Nordisk's industry leadership in developing and commercializing medicines to treat serious chronic diseases, has the potential to significantly accelerate and expand our mission to deliver GalXC RNAi therapies for the benefit of patients and all our stakeholders."
The transaction is expected to close in Q4/21, subject to approval by Dicerna's shareholders, ordinary closing conditions and regulatory approval and waiting periods provided under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.
Dicerna Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical firm based in Lexington, Mass. that aims to create, develop and commercialize medicines that that use ribonucleic acid interference (RNAi) to selectively inhibit genes that cause various diseases. The firm utilizes its proprietary GalXC™ and GalXC-Plus™ RNAi technologies to create RNAi-based therapies that work to silence disease-causing genes to address both common and rare diseases.
The company's initial focus has been centered around disease-causing genes in the liver but noted that its technology presents opportunities for treating tissues and cell types outside the liver and to treat other diseases across multiple therapeutic areas. Dicerna listed that in addition to its work with Novo Nordisk A/S, Roche, it has entered into collaborative partnerships with several other leading firms including Eli Lilly and Co. (LLY:NYSE), Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. and others.
The firm advised that RNAi offers some unique advantages compared to other disease inhibitor technologies such as small-molecule pharmaceuticals or monoclonal antibodies. These approached are designed to target proteins after they have already been produced and released, whereas "RNAi silences the genes themselves via the specific destruction of the messenger RNA (mRNA) made from the gene."
Novo Nordisk is a large global healthcare company headquartered in Bagsvaerd, Denmark. The firm is focused on developing treatments for several diseases and chronic conditions including diabetes, obesity and rare blood and endocrine disorders. The company's ADR shares trade on the NYSE in the U.S. under the symbol "NVO". The company has a market cap of $198.5 billion and employs around 47,000 in 80 countries.
Dicerna Pharmaceuticals started off the day with a market cap of around $1.7 billion with approximately 77.9 million shares outstanding and a short interest of about 5.5%. DRNA shares opened 78% higher today at $37.95 (+$16.67, +78.34%) over yesterday's $21.28 closing price. The stock has traded today between $37.90 and $38.14 per share and is currently trading at $38.05 (+$16.77, +78.81%).
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