Medical Innovation Exchange

Novo Nordisk inks $1B Cardior buyout to pump up heart failure plans

Novo Nordisk is pumping up its heart failure plans. The drugmaker, swelled by its GLP-1 windfall, has decided to buy Cardior Pharmaceuticals and its midphase prospect in a deal that could top out above 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

Cardior is developing an antisense oligonucleotide to inhibit a piece of non-coding RNA, miR-132, that is implicated in heart failure. Upregulation of the RNA when certain cells are stressed can lead to changes in the size and shape of the heart. Blocking elevated miR-132 could therefore prevent or reverse changes that are associated with poor prognosis in patients who have heart attacks.

The biotech raised 64 million euros from investors including Bristol Myers Squibb in 2021 and used the cash to take (PDF) its oligonucleotide, CDR132L, into a phase 2 trial the next year. Cardior has designed the 280-subject study to show CDR132L’s effect on the volume of blood in part of the heart.

Cardior is still months away from the primary completion of the study, according to, but Novo Nordisk is already planning to expand development. The Danish drugmaker plans to run another phase 2 trial in chronic heart failure patients with cardiac hypertrophy, a condition that negatively affects the heart’s ability to pump blood.

CDR132L will slot into a pipeline that already features heart failure programs. Novo Nordisk reported clinical trial data on semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy, in heart failure patients last year. The company is running a phase 3 trial of the IL-6 inhibitor ziltivekimab in a heart failure patient population and is working with Heartseed to test a cell therapy in an early-phase study. 

Novo Nordisk moved to buy Cardior after identifying CDR132L as a molecule with “a distinctive mode of action” that has the “potential to become a first-in-class therapy designed to halt or partially reverse the course of disease for people living with heart failure.” Advances in the treatment of heart failure have so far largely focused on managing the symptoms. CDR132L could address the underlying causes.

The potential for CDR132L to provide long-lasting improvement in heart function led Novo Nordisk to put together an offer worth up to 1.025 billion euros for Cardior. The package includes an upfront payment and milestones, but neither party has provided a breakdown of the deal.

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