Novo turns to Neose for PEG

Related tags Protein Polymer Novo nordisk

Denmark's Novo Nordisk has signed a €47m deal with Neose to develop
long-acting versions of three protein drugs using a proprietary
PEGylation technology.

Novo Nordisk has entered into new collaboration with Neose Technologies that will lead to the development of long-acting versions of three of its protein therapeutics.

These second-generation proteins are expected to offer significant advantages, including less frequent dosing and improved safety and efficacy.

The agreement, valued at up to $55.6 million (€47m), calls for Neose​ to apply its proprietary PEGylation technology to the three proteins, one of which is an already-marketed product. PEGylation is a commonly-used means of extended the half-life of protein drugs and involves joining the protein to a polymer (polyethylene glycol) that protects it from being broken down in the body.

The problem with PEGylation is that it requires chemical modification of the protein and, in some cases, this can impair the drug's activity if the active site of the molecule is impeded. Neose uses a slightly different approach called GlycoPegylation that can link PEG to glycan groups on the protein molecule that are distant from the active site, retaining its biological activity.

Denmark-based Novo first entered into a collaboration with Neose in 2002 to explore the feasibility of using GlycoPEGylation to develop long-acting versions of the protein drugs. The new agreement includes a $4.3 million upfront payment, as well as $51.3 million in milestone payments subject to the achievement of various development goals.

In addition, Novo​ is responsible for funding Neose's research activities relating to these projects.

Novo is one the world's leading manufacturers of insulin products for diabetes, and earlier this month unveiled plans to invest more than $200 million in a new insulin production plant in Brazil. The intention is to start project implementation in the first half of 2004 with the aim of starting production in 2007.

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