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GEN News Highlights : Oct 6, 2011

Unigene and Nordic Set Up Joint Venture to Develop Three Peptide Therapeutics

Nordic’s chairman made a $1.5 million investment in Unigene, which enabled initiation of this JV.

Unigene Laboratories and Nordic Bioscience are establishing a Joint Development Vehicle (JDV) to progress up to three of Unigene's internally developed orally delivered peptide therapeutics for through Phase II trials. The drug candidates are calcitonin analogs that will be tested in type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. Unigene and Nordic will each own 50% of the resulting JDV.

The partnership is partly being funded with $1.5 million in Unigene common stock bought by Nordic’s chairman, Claus Christiansen through his Danish foundation Den Danske Forskningsfond (DDF). Christiansen paid an equivalent to the average share price over the previous 30 days; Unigene closed yesterday at 89 cents and opened today at 98 cents.

Christiansen has an option to buy an additional $1.5 million by year’s end, while DDF has an option to purchase an additional $3 million in the first half of 2012. Dr. Christiansen’s investment provides additional cash runway, thereby enabling Unigene to launch the JDV sooner than would have otherwise been possible, remarks Ashleigh Palmer, Unigene’s president and CEO.

In exchange for 50% ownership interest in the JDV, Unigene will license the three compounds on an exclusive royalty-free basis as well as supply the analogs selected for development for preclinical and clinical trials. Nordic will be responsible for conducting and fully funding all preclinical, toxicology, and clinical development for the type 2 diabetes indication.

"Historically, our efforts have been focused on repurposing established peptide therapeutics, such as calcitonin and PTH. We have now received validation of our novel, proprietary compounds, having survived Nordic's rigorous biomarker screening,” Palmer states.