Novo Nordisk said today it plans to acquire two privately held biopharmaceutical research companies, Calibrium and MB2, for an undisclosed price—a deal that further focuses Novo Nordisk on developing diabetes and obesity drugs.

Calibrium was formed in 2013, and MB2, a year later. Both companies specialize in developing a portfolio of drug candidates to treat diabetes and related metabolic diseases.

Novo Nordisk said the double deal will enable it to grow its portfolio of drug development projects and intellectual property rights within diabetes and obesity.

According to its website, Calibrium is an emerging biopharma focused on discovery and early development of peptides for diabetes and related metabolic diseases. The company received $1.7 million in convertible note funding, with Frazier Healthcare Ventures and 5AM Ventures as lead investors. The Indiana Seed Fund II of BioCrossroads, a nonprofit organization that promotes growth of the life science industry across Indiana, is also an investor in the convertible note, which is convertible into future equity financing.

MB2 is a clinical-stage biopharma whose pipeline includes first-in-class, mixed agonist drugs for diabetes and obesity. In December 2014, MB2 sold $1.5 million toward a planned $4 million securities offering, according to a Form D filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Calibrium’s CEO is Fritz French, while MB2’s is Kent Hawryluk. Richard DiMarchi, PhD, a retired group vp of Eli Lilly, serves as CSO of both companies. The companies are based on research originating at Dr. DiMarchi’s lab at Indiana University (IU) Bloomington, where he is Standiford H. Cox Professor of Chemistry and the Linda Jack Gill Chair in Biomolecular Sciences.

As part of an agreement with IU, Calibrium will have exclusive rights to license intellectual property arising from this research.

“It's an honor to join the global Novo Nordisk research community. Their intense focus on metabolic diseases, which over the years has led to numerous breakthrough protein-based medicines, aligns perfectly with my career-long priorities,” Dr. DiMarchi stated. “I'm optimistic that together we can create novel, transformative therapies in the fight against the global epidemic of diabetes and obesity.”

Novo Nordisk said the acquisitions will also provide a basis for expanding its U.S. research presence; Calibrium and MB2 are both based in Carmel, IN.

The company took a significant step toward such expansion just yesterday when it announced plans to invest $2 billion in new production facilities in Clayton, NC, as well as Måløv, Denmark, with the Clayton site projected to hire 700 people and produce APIs for both oral semaglutide and several other Novo Nordisk's current and future GLP-1 and insulin products.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter, subject to U.S. regulatory approval.

Novo Nordisk announced the acquisitions three days after disclosing mixed results for Victoza® (liraglutide) in ADJUNCT ONE™, the second and final Phase IIIa trial assessing the treatment as an adjunct therapy to insulin for people with type 1 diabetes. Victoza met its primary endpoint of non-inferiority in HbA1c at the doses of 1.2 mg and 1.8 mg—but not for the smallest dose of 0.6 mg.

As a result, Novo Nordisk said, it now does not intend to submit an application to expand the label of Victoza® for use in type 1 diabetes. “We are disappointed as we believed in the potential to provide people with type 1 diabetes with a new treatment option, and we will continue to invest in new treatment options for this group of people,” Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Novo Nordisk’s evp and CSO, said in a statement.

Separately, Novo Nordisk said yesterday it will launch Phase IIIa development of oral semaglutide, a GLP-1 analog formulated as a once-daily tablet for type 2 diabetes.

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