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Novo Nordisk: Making waves in CVM

Who are you and tell us a bit more about Novo Nordisk

I’m Karin Conde-Knape. I am a Corporate Vice President for Global Diabetes, Cardio-renal and Translational Research in Global Drug Discovery, Novo Nordisk.  

Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with more than 95 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. This heritage has given us experience and capabilities that also enable us to help people defeat obesity, haemophilia, growth disorders and other serious chronic diseases. Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 42,200 people in 80 countries and markets its products in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit novonordisk.com, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube.

What most excites you about the Cardiometabolic sector right now?

Within the cardiometabolic area it is very exciting to see that finally patients are starting to be seen in a holistic way and cared for like that. What I mean is that the availability of treatments such as SGLT2 inhibitors or GLP-1 agonists decrease blood glucose and body weight. Furthermore, some of them also lower the risk of having CV events and this has allowed increased communication and collaboration within the endocrinology and cardiology community. We are starting to see more and more collaboration of diabetes associations and heart associations that will benefit people with diabetes and cardiometabolic disease with better care. In addition, some SGLT2 inhibitors have shown a proven kidney benefit as well, which is another highly prevalent diseased organ in people with diabetes.

How have you seen the Cardiometabolic landscape evolve over the last few years?

15 years ago, people with diabetes were treated to decrease their glucose levels and through that hopefully improve the progression of their disease into complications. With the change in the FDA guidelines in 2008 that required the pharmaceutical industry to demonstrate that the products does not increase risks of having a CV event, a new era started.  Industry was forced to test their potential new treatments in cardiovascular outcome trials. This led to some companies leaving the space but also uncovered profiles of new treatments that we never expected.  Consequently, some SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists have now demonstrated a proven CV benefit.  These data have led to new guidelines from the ADA/EASD and ESC to recommend these agents as second line treatment for people with type 2 diabetes with heart failure (SGLT2) or after myocardial infarction (GLP-1). This is quite a change for the treatment of people with diabetes.

What activities are Novo Nordisk undertaking to support innovation?

Novo Nordisk has different internal activities driving innovation but also relies very heavily on collaborations with key scientists in academic institutions to help us drive innovation with a human centric focus. In addition, a constant search for potential collaborations with biotech companies is another important driver.

Are there any sub-sectors or geographical markets that particularly excite you right now?

Within the Cardiovascular area, the need to treat individuals with residual risk despite good control of risk factors is a must. In a saturated market the need to understand better the drivers of risk in these individuals is becoming more and more important and as such very likely that we will need to derive specific patient groups that will benefit the most from novel treatments. Precision medicine in cardiovascular and metabolism will be more and more important for the next generation of treatments. This may lend itself for having treatments that are better suited for different ethnicities.

What’s your long-term vision for the Cardiometabolic sector? And your hopes for the Cardiometabolic landscape more broadly?

I can see a field where the treatment of people with Cardiovascularmetabolic (CVM) disease delivers not only glucose and body weight control but also a lowered risk of cardiovascular and renal incidents. The previously considered nice to have upside in treatment will become a commodity.  Therefore, my hope is that through human centric innovation we are able to understand the disease drivers for people with cardiometabolic disease in 2030 which very likely will not be one of today and therefore will require more specific, precision medicine treatments, to deliver better efficacy and safety vs. existing treatments.

What would success look like for Novo Nordisk in 5 years time in Cardiometabolic?

Success for Novo Nordisk in Cardiovascularmetabolic (CVM) means that cardiologists will recognize that Type 2 Diabetes is a broader and more complex disease that need further investigation. In addition, Novo Nordisk is recognized not only as a diabetes company but a Cardiovascular and metabolism company providing care for people with diabetes and obesity beyond glucose and body weight control.

Where do you see the major opportunities in the next 12 months?

Within the next 12 months we will be seeing major events within the CVM space. Key events will be happening within the NASH field (liver disease being a prevalent comorbidity of people with diabetes and obesity). Potentially the first treatment will be getting approval and further trials will be delivering results in this disease in F2-F4 - also in combination with FXR, and ACC through our collaboration with Gilead. In addition, key trials will have readouts within the Cardiovascular space potentially providing further evidence that triacylglycerol lowering leads to positive Carciovascular outcome trials. In addition, the field of Heart failure with preserve ejection fraction also should have more trials providing further evidence of efficacy in this space. As such, all these should provide confirmation of CVM as an area to invest in and continue to look for external partnerships.

Turning to your own challenges and concerns, what is keeping you awake at the moment?

The need to understand the key drivers of the disease for us to identify targets that remain untouched by standard of care treatment in all the diseases relevant to CVM. Making sure that we have the right tools to increase our human centric approach to drug discovery and development. That we can identify transformational medicines that will stop the progression of these diseases.

Karin Conde-Knape
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Novo Nordisk are a partner at the LSX World Congress, 2020. Check out their event profile here and their website here.

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