It is estimated that around 40 per cent of all medicines on the market suffer from poor water solubility.
The firm's NanoSystems unit has entered into an agreement with Swiss drug major Roche. Roche will now be able to apply the NanoCrystal technology - used to create more effective and convenient dosage forms such as tablets, capsules, liquids, and powders - to one of its compounds that is currently in early clinical development.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Elan stands to receive research license fees, milestone payments for product development and technology transfer activities, and royalties on in-market sales of products commercialised utilizing the NanoCrystal technology.
NanoSytems entered into a license agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb for the Nanocrystal technology at the end of September 2003 and also has a collaboration for the technology in place with Johnson & Johnson's Janssen subsidiary.
The delivery system gained its first commercial approval a month earlier, when J&J's NanoCrystal-based version of its immunosuppressant drug Rapamune (sirolimus) was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Under the terms of the latest agreement, Elan will provide Roche with formulation services and technology in exchange for research revenues, development milestones and royalties on sales of the product incorporating or made using NanoCrystal technology.