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Ventus Therapeutics cuts $70m deal with Danish drug giant Novo Nordisk

The local company is working on drugs to treat conditions like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and chronic kidney disease.

Ventus Therapeutics, a small biotech with operations in Waltham and Montreal, said Thursday that it has signed a licensing deal with the Danish drug giant Novo Nordisk to advance and market several drug assets for a broad range of illnesses, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic kidney disease, and several other disorders.

Novo Nordisk will pay Ventus $70 million upfront and provide funding for research and development. The privately held biotech, which was founded in 2019 by Harvard Medical School Professor Hao Wu and Yale University Professor Richard Flavell and others, could receive an additional $633 million, plus royalty payments, if the program meets clinical, regulatory, and marketing goals.


Marcelo Bigal, Ventus’s chief executive, said Novo Nordisk’s treatments for “cardiometabolic diseases,” such as diabetes, makes the pharmaceutical company an ideal partner. Ventus retains the right to develop the same drug assets for other illnesses, including inflammatory and respiratory diseases. The biotech has 75 employees, about half of them in Waltham and the other half in Montreal.

Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jonathan.saltzman@globe.com.