February 29, 2024

Novo Holdings Announces New Company Launch and Financing Round to Advance Next-Generation Oral Macrocycle Drugs

Orbis Medicines raises a 26 million seed financing for the development of high-value oral alternatives to blockbuster biologic drugs.

Orbis technology uniquely enables rapid and systematic design of oral macrocycle drugs after decades of limited progress in the class.

Novo Holdings Seed Investments built Orbis Medicines through its proactive company creation strategy.

COPENHAGEN – Novo Holdings, a leading global life sciences investor, today announced it had launched Orbis Medicines, a leader in macrocycle drug discovery, to advance the development of next-generation oral macrocycle drugs. Macrocycles are a large and diverse family of compounds with highly desirable therapeutic properties, defined by the presence of a cyclic structure. Their therapeutic potential has been largely untapped due to historic challenges in their design. The launch of Orbis Medicines was accompanied by a 26 million financing round co-led by Novo Holdings and Forbion.

Orbis is powered by a robust and automated chemistry platform called nGen, the first to systematically deliver oral macrocycle drug candidates suitable for both intra- and extracellular targets. With nGen, Orbis Medicines is working to define a new era for macrocycle drugs and enable the treatment of many more patients who can benefit from them. Its pipeline will initially focus on the design and development of oral macrocycle compounds – called nCycles – to address targets previously validated by blockbuster biologic drugs. 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.

Officially founded in 2021 by the Seed Investments’ team of Novo Holdings, Orbis was built on ground-breaking science developed by Professor Christian Heinis and Sevan Habeshian at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

Macrocycles are powerful in their ability to bind to many challenging biological targets. While natural discoveries have led to a select group of blockbuster macrocycle drugs in the past, directed macrocycle design to optimize desirable properties such as oral availability and membrane permeability has been a decades-long challenge. The few synthesized macrocycle drugs have typically required intravenous delivery and only reach extracellular targets. nCycles enable Orbis to access a range of historically challenging targets – including ones unattainable to other approaches – with precision to the benefit of patients.

Novo Holdings’ Morten Døssing, Orbis Executive Chair, and João Ribas, interim Orbis Chief Business Officer, established the company’s team and currently lead its corporate strategy. Orbis reflects the Seed Investments’ company creation ethos, where the team partners with academic experts to establish and build next generation companies in close coordination with its large group of experienced entrepreneurs-in-residence. 

“Oral macrocycles have the potential to disrupt large therapeutic areas historically dominated by IV and subcutaneous blockbuster antibodies and peptides with a convenient oral modality. We believe this evolution will expand the reach of important macrocycle-based medicines to a much larger group of patients,” said Morten Døssing, Executive Chair of the Orbis Board and Partner at Novo Holdings. “Orbis is addressing the limitations of first-generation macrocycle technologies based on its transformational, chemistry-led, machine learning-enabled platform which creates and assays hundreds of thousands of diverse compounds in record time to narrow in on the very best options. We are excited to welcome a highly respected investor, Forbion, to Orbis Medicines who shares our vision of building Orbis Medicines as a leading oral macrocycle company with an extensive pipeline across multiple therapeutic areas.”

Professor Heinis and Dr. Habeshian, scientific co-founders, previously detailed in a Nature Communications research paper the chemical methods underlying nGen. These include the generation of vast libraries of tens of thousands of novel macrocycle compounds ready for testing through a series of automated chemical creation and purification steps. Further published research in Nature Chemical Biology demonstrates nGen’s ability to deliver nCycles that are orally bioavailable and therapeutically relevant.

Leveraging automated assays and machine learning enhancements like pattern recognition, nGen rapidly optimizes novel compounds across multiple parameters. These include desirable drug-like characteristics and specific types and strengths of target interaction. These capabilities not only lay the groundwork for a rapid and potentially de-risked drug development process but also expand the possibilities of macrocycle drugs to transform human health.

For more information on Orbis Medicines, please visit:

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. 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:

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 (now known as Novonesis following the merger with Chr. Hansen 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.

About Forbion

Forbion is a dedicated life sciences venture capital firm with offices in The Netherlands, Germany, and Singapore. 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 95 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

Further information

Media contact:

Christian Mostrup, Head of Press, Novo Holdings,

+45 3067 4805