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Novo Nordisk leads international obesity project


Novo Nordisk leads the international, public-private research consortium ‘SOPHIA’ (Stratification of Obese Phenotypes to Optimize Future Obesity Therapy), which was launched with the aim of improving risk assessment of comorbidities and treatment for people with obesity.

Twenty-nine leading international partners from civil society, academia and industry have joined forces to better understand obesity and optimize future treatment.

“Obesity is a complex, chronic disease and there is still a lot we do not know, both about the biology of the disease itself and how treatment can improve the lives of patients with obesity. SOPHIA is an important step towards understanding obesity better. The collaboration between excellent contributors from academia, industry and associations holds a big promise that we can deliver strong and unique results,” says SOPHIA Project Leader Dr Marianne Ølholm Larsen Grønning of Novo Nordisk.

A Patient Advisory Board

SOPHIA will provide evidence-based classification of predictors for obesity complications and response to obesity treatment while also identifying and charting models for sustainably developing treatment pathways that will be valuable for patients, healthcare systems, researchers and clinicians.

The voices of people living with obesity will be at the heart of SOPHIA through the establishment of a Patient Advisory Board. It will ensure that patients’ insights, opinions and wishes are placed at the core of SOPHIA and interwoven into the multiple layers of the study. The research group will use its findings to contribute to a more patient-centric and equitable narrative around obesity and its multiple impacts on individuals from both a social and medical perspective. It all starts with obesity being a chronic disease, not something people choose to live with. SOPHIA has been granted €16 million in funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) – a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA); JDRF; the Obesity Action Coalition; and T1D Exchange.

Last until May 2025

Some of the methods used in SOPHIA will be creating a database, conducting analysis, conducting in-depth qualitative methods with patients to identify their perceptions and perspectives on obesity diagnosis and treatment and finding a shared value with all stakeholders to ensure better treatment of people living with obesity.

SOPHIA will also investigate health outcomes in people with obesity who have type 1 diabetes.

The project officially kicked off its activities across Europe on 1 June 2020.  It will last until 31 May 2025 and the first milestone is already planned for September 2020.

Image caption: Obesity R&D at Novo Nordisk A/S, Måløv, Denmark, 2015. Photo: Johan F Paulsson