Novo Nordisk said on Thursday that it has reached an agreement to buy Dicerna Pharmaceuticals for $3.3 billion in cash. Dicerna specializes in therapies that target disease-causing genes.

Novo is following competitors such as Novartis in betting on RNA interference technology, or RNAi, in which disease-causing genes are silenced or rendered ineffective. Genes have a crucial role in the development of thousands of diseases.

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In 2019, Novo and Dicerna began collaborating on clinical prospects for conditions such as chronic liver disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), type 2 diabetes, obesity, and rare diseases.

The company said in a statement that the acquisition "This acquisition supports Novo Nordisk's strategy of developing and applying a broad range of technology platforms across all Novo Nordisk therapeutic areas,"

The $38.25 per share purchase marks a 79.7% premium over Dicerna's closing price on Wednesday. Dicerna is based in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Novo, the world's largest diabetic drugmaker, stated that the first investigational therapy to arise from this agreement will begin clinical development in 2022.

As part of its $9.7 billion acquisition of The Medicines Co., Novartis purchased the anti-cholesterol RNAi medication Leqvio or inclisiran. The chemical has been approved for usage in Europe, but its approval in the United States has been postponed.

Amgen and Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, as well as Regeneron and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, are two other businesses working on RNAi cardiovascular medications.

Novo's stock rose 1.2% in premarket trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange were up 0.5%, essentially unchanged.

The deal is likely to finalize in the fourth quarter of 2021, with the majority of the money coming from debt.

The acquisition will have no impact on Novo's full-year guidance, but it is expected to have a 3% negative impact on operational profit growth in 2022.