Teaming up for efficiency

Novozymes and Almac ink combined service deal to provide customers with drug development efficiencies

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BAGSVÆRD, Denmark—Novozymes Biopharma, part of Novozymes A/S, has announced a new collaboration with Almac under which the companies will provide a combined service for drug development applications in drug targeting and pharmacokinetic improvements. Clients will be able to use Almac’s manufacturing assets and protein conjugation capabilities to combine Novozymes Recombumin Flex technology with their peptide and small-molecule drugs. Work with commercial partners is already underway, and will continue to grow early next year.
 
“This alliance has clear benefits for companies involved in both drug development and delivery technologies: a complete service can be recommended utilizing the core expertise of both parties at an early stage of clinical development, thus significantly enhancing the success of drug development programs,” Denis Geffroy, vice president of business development for Almac, commented in a statement.
 
Dermot Pearson, marketing director at Novozymes Biopharma, describes the collaboration as a co-marketing agreement, explaining that Novozymes will promote its technology, and where its customers might need chemical support for their work, they will recommend Almac.
 
This is far from the first time the companies have paired up, says Pearson, noting that their association began with Novozymes going to Almac for work on a fee-for-service basis. From there, he says, Novozymes noticed that Almac had “very interesting capabilities, and that we also wished to look at the exploitation of our fundamental albumin technology in a slightly different space, in other words conjugation of small-molecule drugs and peptides to albumin, and the know-how and capabilities around the chemical conjugation of drugs to albumin was not something that we were expert in. And so it seemed that working with Almac made a very, very logical step forward for the two of us.”
 
The focus of this collaboration is Novozymes Recombumin Flex technology, which clients will be able to link to their drug products through the use of Almac’s technology, as a one-contract service offering. Novozymes’ work with albumin has resulted in being able to modify the amino acid sequence of the protein to increase its receptor affinity, for benefits such as a longer half-life.
 
Albumin has a long half-life to begin with, lingering in the bloodstream for 19 to 20 days, according to Pearson, and with some small molecules, particularly those in oncology, it also accumulates at tumor sites. As such, one of the areas Pearson says they are exploring is, if a small molecule is conjugated with albumin, what kind of increase in accumulation of that small molecule might be seen at the tumor site. Additionally, it might also be a new way of targeted delivery, using albumin as a carrier.
 
“But most interestingly what we’ve done with albumin is we’ve looked at the binding of albumin to its natural receptor, and we have studied the receptor binding site on both the receptor and albumin, and we have optimized the changes of albumin in relation to its amino acid sequence so that we can very much increase the binding of albumin to the receptor and therefore increase the half-life,” Pearson explains. “This will make it more convenient for the patient if they’re self-administering. It may also mean that the drug can be dosed at lower doses in order to achieve longer dosing intervals, and consequently also may deliver on reduced toxicity for the drug, because it is dosing at lower quantities but also is still effective at lower quantities simply because the drug is hanging around in the body for longer.”
 
“By working alongside Almac, we are confident that we will be able to create more opportunities for developers seeking to benefit from the Recombumin Flex technology,” said Pearson. “The advantage of working with two companies well-versed in providing products and services to the pharmaceutical industry is that customers gain the assurance that their needs will be provided for, not just in the short term, but right through to commercial supply.”


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