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Novo Nordisk, Caisson Biotech announce license agreement
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.—Biopharmaceutical company Caisson Biotech, LLC, and Novo Nordisk A/S have announced the establishment of a development and license agreement for Caisson's proprietary heparosan-based drug delivery technology for the development of compounds in undisclosed therapeutic areas.
Per the terms of the agreement, Novo Nordisk will gain a license to Caisson's technology, for which Caisson will receive an upfront payment and contract research and manufacturing payments of undisclosed amounts. Caisson is also eligible to receive milestone payments if certain predefined clinical, regulatory and commercial targets are met, plus royalties on global sales of any therapeutics that result from the agreement. All told, the total deal value could be in excess of $100 million.
"This agreement with Novo Nordisk is significant, and we are extremely pleased to closely collaborate with a leader in the development of therapeutic proteins," Thomas Harlan, CEO of Caisson, said in a press release. "Besides advancements within our own internal research programs, we have now established a pivotal technology access agreement we believe can further validate the application of Caisson's heparosan-based drug delivery technology. We look forward to the rapid advancement of the Caisson clinical pipeline and the opportunity to work with additional industry partners to bring novel therapeutics to patients in need."
Caisson's heparosan-based system offers an alternative to the current industry standard of PEG additives. Caisson notes on its site that while the PEG molecule has served to make drug administration easier and more compatible with the immune system, it also has several issues of its own, including toxicity, potential immunogenicity, tightly controlled patents, restrictive/expensive licensing rights and accumulation in the kidneys, liver and brain.
Heparosan, however, overcomes most of these issues, the company notes. The human body does not produce any extracellular enzymes that degrade heparosan, and there are no known receptors or binding proteins for the polymer either. As it is made in the body, it is "bio- compatible" and does not cause issues when it degrades. Also, the immune system does not "see" heparosan—to the point that some pathogens cloak themselves with the polymer to avoid detection—and as such does not stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies in response.
"We recently completed feasibility studies with Novo Nordisk that we believe validate Caisson's heparosan-based drug delivery technology for product pharmacokinetics and enhanced half-life in relation to an undisclosed therapy area," Dr. Paul DeAngelis, chief scientist of Caisson, said in a press release. "Our technology utilizes a naturally occurring sugar polymer that is stable and inert in the bloodstream, but is biodegradable inside cells for the purpose of cloaking, enlarging and/or protecting drug cargo. We can customize heparosan with respect to polymer size and conjugation chemistry thus providing flexibility to enhance a variety of therapeutic proteins, peptides, delivery platforms (e.g., liposomes, viruses or nanoparticles) and small molecules."
"We are delighted to continue working with Caisson and their promising heparosan technology," Per Falk, senior vice president of Novo Nordisk's Biopharmaceutical Research Unit, said in a statement. "This technology is an interesting approach for generating novel therapeutics with prolonged half-lives."