September 26, 2023

Novo Holdings Participates in €45M Series B Financing Round for Acesion Pharma

Acesion Pharma to advance development of novel therapy for atrial fibrillation

Financing was co-led by new US-based investors Canaan and Alpha Wave with participation by the Global BioAccess Fund

Novo Holdings was the founding investor and remains largest shareholder

Copenhagen, Denmark – September 26, 2023 – Novo Holdings A/S, a leading global life sciences investor, today announces a significant investment in Acesion Pharma (“Acesion”) a biotech company pioneering first-in-class novel therapies for atrial fibrillation (“AF”).

The €45M Series B financing round was oversubscribed and was co-led by new US-based investors Canaan and Alpha Wave with participation by the Global BioAccess Fund.

Acesion Pharma is developing more efficacious and safe drugs for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia. The financing will be used to advance the clinical development of AP31969, an SK ion channel inhibitor optimised for chronic oral maintenance treatment to prevent AF recurrence. Earlier this year, Acesion demonstrated clinical proof-of-concept with AP30663, its first-in-class SK ion channel inhibitor for conversion of AF to normal sinus rhythm.

Jørgen Søberg Petersen, MD, PhD, MBA, Chairman of Acesion Pharma and Partner, Novo Holdings, said “As the founding and largest shareholder, Novo Holdings remains committed in helping Acesion realise the full potential of AP31969. The preclinical data is encouraging and with this series B financing in place Acesion will be able to progress the development to the important milestone of completing a phase 2 trial and thereby being ready for phase 3 programme.”

Anders Gaarsdal Holst, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Acesion, said “The high levels of investor interest and demand that we saw during this financing speak to the strong data we have generated, both on the novel mechanism of SK channel inhibition in general and the AP31969 compound specifically. This is a powerful endorsement for our team and the quality of our science. With the financing in hand, we are focused on progressing AP31969 into a phase 1 clinical trial later this year.”

AF is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia and is forecast to affect 25 million people in the US and EU by 2030. Existing drug therapies for AF are associated with the risk of serious cardiac or other adverse effects, resulting in a great need for safer drugs. Yet, there has been a lack of innovation and development with no new chronic AF drug approved for nearly 20 years. With AP31969, Acesion is aiming to develop a safer alternative.

In connection with the financing, Tim Shannon, General Partner at Canaan, and Nik Economopoulos, Analyst from Alpha Wave will join the Acesion board of directors.  Jørgen Søberg Petersen, Partner at Novo Holdings, will remain Chairman.

About Novo Holdings
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.

About Acesion Pharma
Acesion builds on 20 years of know-how with development of small-molecule SK inhibitors and is the world leader in the field of SK channel inhibition, being the only company able to identify and progress SK channel inhibitors into clinical trials. In pre-clinical studies, inhibiting the SK channels has been shown to result in pronounced antiarrhythmic effects in the atria while avoiding effects on the ventricles, the major chambers of the heart and the source of most safety issues with existing drugs. Furthermore, the SK channel has strong genetic validation, with genes encoding the SK channels having one of the strongest associations to AF in human genome-wide association studies. Acesion’s AP30663 IV is a short acting conversion therapy for hospitals that has completed a phase 2 trial proving the value of this first-in-class mechanism in AF and thereby de-risking Acesion’s broader SK inhibitor pipeline. Acesion’s oral program is designed and engineered using in house knowhow to optimise for, and meet, very high hurdles in both efficacy and particularly safety where existing treatments fall short of patient needs. Acesion Pharma is backed by Novo Holdings A/S, Canaan, Alpha Wave Alpha Wave Ventures, Global BioAccess Fund, Wellcome Trust, Broadview Ventures and FC Capital.

Further information

Marie-Louise Jersin, Senior Communications Partner, +45 3049 4957,