Novo Nordisk, Caisson Biotech announce license agreement

Companies to focus on heparoson-based drug delivery technology

Kelsey Kaustinen
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.—Biopharmaceutical company CaissonBiotech, LLC, and Novo Nordisk A/S have announced the establishment of adevelopment and license agreement for Caisson's proprietary heparosan-baseddrug delivery technology for the development of compounds in undisclosedtherapeutic areas.
 
Per the terms of the agreement, Novo Nordisk will gain alicense to Caisson's technology, for which Caisson will receive an upfrontpayment and contract research and manufacturing payments of undisclosedamounts. Caisson is also eligible to receive milestone payments if certainpredefined clinical, regulatory and commercial targets are met, plus royaltieson 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 areextremely pleased to closely collaborate with a leader in the development oftherapeutic proteins," Thomas Harlan, CEO of Caisson, said in a press release."Besides advancements within our own internal research programs, we have nowestablished a pivotal technology access agreement we believe can furthervalidate the application of Caisson's heparosan-based drug delivery technology.We look forward to the rapid advancement of the Caisson clinical pipeline andthe opportunity to work with additional industry partners to bring noveltherapeutics to patients in need."
 
 
Caisson's heparosan-based system offers an alternative tothe current industry standard of PEG additives. Caisson notes on its site thatwhile the PEG molecule has served to make drug administration easier and morecompatible with the immune system, it also has several issues of its own,including toxicity, potential immunogenicity, tightly controlled patents, restrictive/expensivelicensing rights and accumulation in the kidneys, liver and brain.
 
 
Heparosan, however, overcomes most of these issues, thecompany notes. The human body does not produce any extracellular enzymes thatdegrade heparosan, and there are no known receptors or binding proteins for thepolymer either. As it is made in the body, it is "bio-compatible" and does notcause issues when it degrades. Also, the immune system does not "see"heparosan—to the point that some pathogens cloak themselves with the polymer toavoid detection—and as such does not stimulate the immune system to produceantibodies in response.
 
"We recently completed feasibility studies with Novo Nordiskthat we believe validate Caisson's heparosan-based drug delivery technology forproduct pharmacokinetics and enhanced half-life in relation to an undisclosedtherapy area," Dr. Paul DeAngelis, chief scientist of Caisson, said in a pressrelease. "Our technology utilizes a naturally occurring sugar polymer that isstable and inert in the bloodstream, but is biodegradable inside cells for thepurpose of cloaking, enlarging and/or protecting drug cargo. We can customizeheparosan with respect to polymer size and conjugation chemistry thus providingflexibility to enhance a variety of therapeutic proteins, peptides, deliveryplatforms (e.g., liposomes, viruses or nanoparticles) and small molecules."
 
 
"We are delighted to continue working with Caisson and theirpromising heparosan technology," Per Falk, senior vice president of Novo Nordisk'sBiopharmaceutical Research Unit, said in a statement. "This technology is aninteresting approach for generating novel therapeutics with prolongedhalf-lives."

Kelsey Kaustinen

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