Novo Nordisk to Acquire Embark Biotech, Broadening Obesity Portfolio

Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) has agreed to acquire Danish biotechnology company, Embark Biotech, for its lead metabolic program, in a deal valued at $16 million. The two companies have entered a three-year research and development collaboration to discover and develop novel pharmaceuticals to treat obesity and related co-morbidities.

Brian Finan, Vice President of Obesity Research at Novo Nordisk, said, “Novo Nordisk has been engaged in obesity research for 25 years, and we continuously search for new ways to address this serious chronic disease. We are excited about the opportunity to advance Embark Biotech’s lead program and look forward to co-creating novel treatments for cardiometabolic diseases with Embark Laboratories to complement our in-house R&D.”


Under the acquisition agreement for Embark Biotech, Novo Nordisk receives the full rights to develop and commercialize the lead program.

Embark shareholders will receive $16 million in an upfront cash payment and are eligible to receive potential development, regulatory, and commercial milestones of up to almost $500 million.

The research and development collaboration with Embark Laboratories provides Novo Nordisk with the option to acquire selected assets based on Embark Biotech discoveries across indications, including obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Zach Gerhart-Hines, Chief Technology Officer at Embark Laboratories, said, “We are thrilled to pass on the baton for our lead metabolic program to Novo Nordisk. This deal and Embark’s success are direct outcomes of the unique and innovative ecosystem in Denmark that has been cultivated by the BioInnovation Institute and the University of Copenhagen and through initiatives from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Innovation Fund Denmark.”

About Embark Biotech

Embark Biotech is a 2017 spin-out from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) at University of Copenhagen, where Associate Professor Zach Gerhart-Hines, together with then postdoctoral fellow Jakob Bondo Hansen and Professor Thue W. Schwartz, discovered a novel target that suppresses appetite increases energy expenditure and enhances insulin sensitivity (seed support from Novo Holdings). Development of the target was initiated via an early collaboration with Novo Nordisk. The project was then further matured through support and guidance from the InnoBooster program at the Innovation Fund Denmark and from the BioInnovation Institute (BII) during a residency in the Venture House Program.

About Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk is a leading global healthcare company, founded in 1923 and headquartered in Denmark. Our purpose is to drive change to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic diseases such as obesity and rare blood and endocrine disorders. We do so by pioneering scientific breakthroughs, expanding access to our medicines, and working to prevent and ultimately cure disease. Novo Nordisk employs about 57,100 people in 80 countries and markets its products in around 170 countries. For more information, visit

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Novo Nordisk to Acquire Embark Biotech, Broadening Obesity Portfolio

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