Zosano Pharma signed an agreement with Novo Nordisk to develop a new transdermal presentation of semaglutide, an investigational proprietary human GLP-1 (Glucagon-Like Peptide-1) analog. The goal is to administer the drug once weekly using Zosano’s microneedle patch system for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Novo Nordisk and Zosano initially will collaborate on preclinical experiments to verify delivery of semaglutide using Zosano’s system. Zosano is granting

Novo Nordisk a worldwide, exclusive license to develop and commercialize Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1 analogs using the microneedle patch. Novo Nordisk will, pending successful outcomes of preclinical and clinical testing, be responsible for commercialization of all products under the agreement.

Potential payments to Zosano under the agreement include an upfront payment and additional payments upon achieving certain preclinical, clinical, regulatory, and sales milestones. Such payments could total more than $60 million for the first product and $55 million for each additional product. Zosano is also eligible to receive royalties on sales of products and will receive development support, as well as reimbursement of all development and manufacturing costs.

“Our goal in combining semaglutide with [our] system is to offer weekly dosing, room temperature stability, and self-administration without the need for a subcutaneous injection,” said Vikram Lamba, Zosano’s CEO.

Last month the FDA approved AstraZeneca’s Farxiga as a type 2 diabetes therapy. The drug is an SGLT-2 inhibitor that works by blocking reabsorption of glucose by the kidney and increasing the excretion of glucose through urine to lower levels of blood sugar.

The International Diabetes Federation estimates that over 90% of the more than 370 million people who have diabetes worldwide are dealing with type 2. Vistiongain predicts that the world market for diabetes medications, which totaled $35.6 billion in 2012, will reach $55.3 billion in 2017.

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