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Novo spends $800m to buy biotech and 'glucose responsive insulin' tech

Ziylo could help it stay ahead in key insulin franchise

Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk is aiming to develop the world’s first glucose responsive insulin (GRI) by acquiring UK biotech start-up Ziylo.

Its new purchase is a University of Bristol spinout, which has been pioneering the use of synthetic glucose binding molecules for therapeutic applications.

Designed by Professor Anthony Davies from the University of Bristol, these stable,synthetic molecules display selectivity to glucose in complex environments such as blood.

Combining this technology with Novo Nordisk’s insulin to create GRIs would ultimately help further its goal of eliminating the risk of hypoglycaemia, the main risk associated with insulin therapy.

Low blood sugar is also a barrier in achieving optimal glucose control, and if Novo Nordisk could hone in on Ziylo’s platform, then it has the potential to reduce the diabetes burden, all the while creating safer insulin therapies, it says.

Marcus Schindler, senior vice president, Global Drug Discovery at Novo Nordisk, said: “We believe the glucose binding molecules discovered by the Ziylo team together with Novo Nordisk world-class insulin capabilities have the potential to lead to the development of glucose responsive insulins, which we hope can remove the risk of hypoglycaemia and ensure optimal glucose control for people with diabetes.”

The deal comes months after Novo’s failed to land a major new acquisition, when it saw Ablynx reject its $3.1bn takeover bid, only to see Sanofi secure the prize with an offer of $3.9bn.

Today's deal sees Novo acquire all shares in Ziylo for an upfront payment and earn-outs along with milestone payments. The total could potentially amount to $800m.

Harry Destecroix, chief executive and co-founder of Ziylo, said: “Novo Nordisk is the ideal company to maximise the potential of the Ziylo glucose binding molecules in glucose responsive insulins and diabetes applications, and it brings hope of a truly groundbreaking treatment to diabetes patients.

“Novo Nordisk is the leader in the diabetes field, with deep clinical development and regulatory expertise and an established commercial infrastructure to deliver important new therapies to patients.”

While the new deal helps Novo Nordisk take insulin treatment to the next level, it doesn't address the company's need to broaden its therapy area scope, which Ablynx and its  nanobodies platform would have, as its pipeline covers inflammation, haematology, respiratory disease and oncology.

Article by
Gemma Jones

17th August 2018

From: Sales

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