🇩🇰 Orbis Medicines launches with €26 million seed financing to transform macrocycle drug development through next-generation orally dosable ‘nCycles’

March 6, 2024

Orbis Medicines

Financing led by Novo Holdings and Forbion

Orbis’ platform is first to systematically explore macrocycle chemical space using unique combination of high-throughput chemical synthesis and large-scale assaying, supported by machine learning

Pipeline to initially focus on high-value oral alternatives to blockbuster biologic drugs and opening new targets to therapeutic intervention

COPENHAGEN – February 29, 2024 – Orbis Medicines, a leader in oral macrocycle drug discovery, today announces its launch with a €26 million financing led by global life sciences investor Novo Holdings and European life sciences venture firm Forbion. The funding will support Orbis’ expansion and advancement of its portfolio of next-generation macrocycle drugs it calls ‘nCycles’. Macrocycles are a large and diverse family of compounds with highly desirable therapeutic properties, defined by the presence of a cyclic structure. nCycles are systematically designed by Orbis’ nGen1 platform to be orally bioavailable and membrane permeable, solving decades-long challenges in macrocycle drug design.

The Orbis pipeline includes programs against targets validated by blockbuster biologic drugs, with the goal of providing oral alternatives that will enable the treatment of many more patients. In addition, Orbis is developing a pipeline of nCycles for other attractive target classes, both intra- and extra-cellular. Oral macrocycle drugs can potentially address a very wide range of diseases based on their ability to target a majority of the potential molecular targets in the body.

“After decades of challenging de novo synthesis, the universe of potential macrocycle targets is now available for exploration. Not only can Orbis reach a wealth of new targets, both inside and outside cells, but we can do this while preserving an oral format to pioneer a new therapeutic class of oral macrocycles. It’s a milestone for drug development,” said Morten Døssing, Chair of the Orbis Board and Partner at Novo Holdings. “We believe Orbis has the premier chemistry-led approach in the field, which gives us a distinct data advantage. We can generate hundreds of thousands of diverse compounds in record time and immediately apply a range of functional assays in a high-throughput fashion to each individual compound to home in on winners. Establishing this robust, reliable engine for candidate design was crucial for us as we look to bring macrocycle drugs to major patient populations.”

Orbis was founded in 2021 by the Seeds Investment team of Novo Holdings, with Mr. Døssing as Executive Chair and João Ribas as interim CBO establishing the company’s team and building its corporate strategy. The scientific foundation of Orbis was developed by Prof. Christian Heinis and Sevan Habeshian at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

“The broad potential of oral macrocycle drugs to address challenging targets untouchable by small molecules, coupled with recent momentum in the field, makes this an incredibly exciting development,” said Marco Boorsma, Ph.D., General Partner at Forbion. “With a compelling AI-enabled platform technology, scientific expertise and a clear strategy for growth, Orbis is attracting strong interest for its approach to finally delivering on the promise of this class for medicine. We believe Orbis’s combinatorial approach and ability to continuously generate big data from real compounds gives them an undeniable opportunity to unlock the potential of orally available macrocycle drugs for significantly larger patient populations.”

The chemical methods by which Orbis rapidly generates vast libraries of diverse macrocycle compounds ready for immediate assay were previously published in Nature Communications. Authors of the paper, which included Orbis’ founders Professor Heinis and Dr. Habeshian, detail how the methods draw on a large range of components to build compounds, including both natural and synthetic amino acids, creating an extremely large chemical space for exploration. Additionally, research recently published  in Nature Chemical Biology demonstrates nGen’s ability to deliver nCycles that are orally bioavailable, marking a new era for macrocycle drug discovery.

About Orbis Medicines

Orbis Medicines is a biotechnology company focused on pioneering a new era for oral macrocycle drug discovery. Macrocycles are a large and diverse family of compounds with highly desirable therapeutic properties, defined by the presence of a cyclic structure. Orbis’ nGen platform is designed to systematically explore the macrocycle chemical space using a highly automated chemistry platform and deliver oral macrocycle drug candidates – nCycles – suitable for both intra- and extracellular targets. Orbis’ programs are focused on high-value oral alternatives to blockbuster biologic drugs and targets challenging for established modalities. Orbis was founded by Novo Holdings. For more information, please visit: www.orbismedicines.com

1About nGen

nGen is Orbis’ technology platform for generating oral macrocycle drug candidates, which it calls nCycles. It consists of multiple proprietary integrated elements starting with hit finding libraries of 100 billion compounds. Hits identified are progressed using Orbis’ highly automated chemistry-based platform that rapidly creates and tests hundreds of thousands of individual analogues with a full suite of assays to identify the most desirable ones. The scale and quality of the data produced from these real compounds, paired with machine learning, creates an industry-leading platform that de-risks and accelerates development. Recently published research in Nature Chemical Biology demonstrates nGen’s ability to deliver nCycles that are orally bioavailable, marking a new era for macrocycle drug discovery.

About Novo Holdings A/S

Novo Holdings is a holding and investment company that is responsible for managing the assets and the wealth of the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The purpose of Novo Holdings is to improve people’s health and the sustainability of society and the planet by generating attractive long-term returns on the assets of the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Wholly owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Novo Holdings is the controlling shareholder of Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S and manages an investment portfolio with a long-term return perspective. In addition to managing a broad portfolio of equities, bonds, real estate, infrastructure and private equity assets, Novo Holdings is a world-leading life sciences investor. Through its Seeds, Venture, Growth, and Principal Investments teams, Novo Holdings invests in life science companies at all stages of development. As of year-end 2022, Novo Holdings had total assets of EUR 108 billion. www.novoholdings.dk

About Forbion

Forbion is a dedicated life sciences venture capital firm with offices in The Netherlands and Germany. Forbion invests in life sciences companies that are active in the biopharmaceutical space, managing €3 billion across multiple fund strategies that cover all stages of biopharmaceutical drug development. The firm’s current team consists of more than 30 life sciences investment professionals that have built an impressive performance track record since the late nineties with investments in over 100 companies across 8 funds. Forbion’s record of sourcing, building and guiding life sciences companies has resulted in many breakthrough therapies and valuable exits. In addition to its financial return objectives, Forbion selects investments that will positively affect the health and well-being of patients. The firm is a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. More information can be found at www.forbion.com


Kit Rodophele
Ten Bridge Communications
[email protected]

Originally published on 1 March by Orbis Medicines.

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