OKLAHOMA CITY—Biopharmaceutical company Caisson Biotech, LLC, has announced an expansion of its partnership with Novo Nordisk A/S. The expansion grants Novo Nordisk exclusive rights to commercialize insulin conjugated to HEPtune, Caisson’s heparosan-based drug delivery technology, and non-exclusive rights to apply that technology across therapeutic areas such as diabetes, human growth hormone therapy, obesity and inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis.
Per the terms of the agreement, Caisson stands to receive up to $167 million in milestone payments if certain predefined clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones are met, in addition to being eligible for potential long-term residual royalties.
“As a respected healthcare leader, Novo Nordisk has been an ideal partner and provides the infrastructure and expertise necessary to develop these much-needed therapeutic products,” Thomas Harlan, CEO of Caisson, said in a press release. “We look forward to our continued collaboration under this new license and to assisting Novo Nordisk in achieving its goal of developing these products and helping more patients.”
Caisson and Novo Nordisk began their original development and license agreement back in May 2012. The agreement granted Novo Nordisk the exclusive rights to use Caisson’s HEPtune technology to engineer and develop compounds in undisclosed therapeutic areas. Caisson stood to receive an upfront payment of an undisclosed amount, as well as contract research and manufacturing payments, with the potential for milestone payments and royalties. All told, the deal had a potential total value of more than $100 million. Per Falk, then senior vice president of Novo Nordisk’s Biopharmaceutical Research Unit, called HEPtune “an interesting approach for generating novel therapeutics with prolonged half-lifes.”
Caisson’s HEPtune platform makes use of heparosan, a naturally occurring polymer found in the human body. By adding a natural heparosan polymer vehicle to a drug—either a protein or a small molecule—HEPtune can improve the safety, tolerability, efficacy and quality of a variety of drug compounds. By extending the half-life of drugs, it makes enables less frequent administration, which, as Caisson notes on its website, in turns allows for increased compliance and safety. There are no known toxic effects associated with the heparosan-based system, and it features safe absorption and greater solubility in water.
“Novo Nordisk has completed feasibility studies that pre-clinically validate Caisson’s heparosan-based drug delivery technology for product pharmacokinetics and enhanced half-life,” Dr. Paul DeAngelis, chief scientist at Caisson, commented in a press release. “The HEPtune technology uses heparosan, a naturally occurring sugar polymer produced by the body that is stable and inert in the bloodstream while being biodegradable. Furthermore, HEPtune can be customized with respect to polymer size and conjugation chemistry thus providing flexibility to enhance a variety of therapeutic proteins and peptides.”