BAGSVÆRD, Denmark—Novozymes Biopharma, which carries its knowledge of recombinant albumin, half-life extension and hyaluronic acid to medical device and pharmaceutical products, has entered a new collaboration with the U.K.-based biotechnology company ThioLogics, which aims to commercialize new bioconjugation technologies that will enable the construction of homogeneous antibody-drug conjugate therapeutics.
ThioLogics is a wholly owned company of UCL Business PLC (UCLB) spun out of UCL Chemistry, a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercializes research and innovations coming from University College London (UCL), one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics.
Bringing together Novozymes’ modified recombinant human albumin (rAlbumin) Veltis technology with ThioLogics’ site-specific next-generation maleimide conjugation platform, the collaboration enables Novozymes to offer the pharma industry serum-stable albumin drug conjugates with enhanced pharmacokinetic and/or targeting capabilities. As part of the partnership, Novozymes’ customers will gain access to conjugation specialists, providing assurance that they will receive support to design stable and efficacious drug candidates.
“Combining the benefits of Novozymes’ and ThioLogics’ technology platforms means that we can now work with more customers across a wider range of drug candidates,” said Dermot Pearson, marketing director at Novozymes Biopharma, in a news release about the collaboration. He added, “Together we are creating new opportunities for customers by providing them with a single access point to link Novozymes’ Veltis albumins and ThioLogics’ conjugation platform, to improve their products.”
Pearson added that Novozymes brings the half-life extension and drug targeting capabilities of albumin and albumin variants, as well as the knowledge and experience to make the albumins, to the collaboration. ThioLogics brings expertise in chemistry and chemical coupling to albumin, complementing Novozymes’ biological and protein competencies.
The collaboration came about through networking contacts and then after Novozymes confirmed the benefit of identifying a chemical coupling capability for some of its drug developer customers to use to link their peptide, protein or small-molecule candidate to albumin, according to Pearson. “Novozymes contacted ThioLogics to express an interest in using its technology for Novozymes customers’ benefits in a screen of a variety of different providers of this competence,” he explains to DDNews.
Exclusively marketed through Novozymes Biopharma, the collaboration will allow Novozymes to apply its technology to molecules that are not amenable to a genetic fusion approach, such as synthesized peptides and small molecules in oncology and rheumatoid arthritis. Combining the advantages of the two technologies will enable the versatile modification of these therapeutic molecules to yield well-defined, stable and consistent conjugates.
“We are delighted to announce ThioLogics’ unique collaboration with Novozymes, which will expand the capabilities of our technology platform beyond antibody drug conjugates,” commented Dr. Chris Williams, business development manager at ThioLogics.
Prof. Stephen Caddick, one of the founders of ThioLogics said, “For the first time, the linking of our two platforms will make well-defined and stable albumin conjugation a reality, providing manufacturers with serum-stable drug conjugates with tailored pharmacokinetics to maximize the therapeutic potential of their products.”
Combining the Veltis platform with ThioLogics’ next-generation maleimide technology, in addition to Novozymes’ recently announced partnership with Almac, provides Veltis with a strong position in the field of drug conjugation and supports the use of the technology in peptide and protein fusion, according to Caddick.
Pearson expects the main type of customers to be “those relatively small biotech or drug developer units that have an interesting small-molecule or peptide candidate that has shown some promise in preclinical research, particularly those who need, but do not have access to, the skills to link their drug to a carrier to deliver exceptional half-life or useful targeting properties.” In this context he believes that Novozymes can provide early research samples or engage its preferred partner Almac to make the samples and then offer the possibility of conjugation scale-up and GMP manufacturing using the Novozymes albumins and ThioLogics chemistry.
He concludes, “In general terms, the commercial potential is to mutually exploit our two technologies with the intent that the combination of Novozymes’ manufacturing and supply of specialized albumins with the ThioLogics coupling chemistry, along with the Almac capability of performing the chemistry at large GMP scale for clinical development and commercial supply of the conjugated entity, provides a credible route to market for our partners.”