Caisson claims heparosan has numerous advantages compared with PEGylation.

Novo Nordisk negotiated a potentially $100 million deal with Caisson Biotech to secure exclusive rights to use the latter’s heparosan-based drug delivery technology for the development of compounds in specified therapeutic areas. The commercial deal follows the completion of feasibility studies and includes an up-front fee paid to Caisson plus potential clinical,regulatory, and commercial milestones together with royalties on sales of resulting therapeutics.

Caisson is exploiting its heparosan-based drug conjugate technology to boost the therapeutic properties of drug molecules by increasing half-life, reducing immunogenicity, and increasing stability. The firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of Heparinex and is managed and funded by life sciences technology and investment organization Emergent Technologies.

“Our technology utilizes a naturally occurring sugar polymer that is stable and inert in the bloodstream but is biodegradable inside cells for the purpose of cloaking, enlarging, and/or protecting drug cargo,” explains Paul DeAngelis, CSO. “We can customize heparosan with respect to polymer size and conjugation chemistry, thus providing flexibility to enhance a variety of therapeutic proteins, peptides, delivery platforms (e.g., liposomes, viruses, or nanoparticles), and small molecules.”

Caisson claims its heparosan technology has a number of advantages over current PEGylation platforms. These include lack of known toxicity, longer half-life at equivalent polymer size, higher and more rapid solubility in water, safe absorption/excretion, low viscosity to facilitate injection, and suitability for use with a range of drug types or delivery agents. The firm is exploiting the heparosan platform for the development of an internal pipeline and is also making the technology available through drug development collaborations and licensing deals. It says the agreement with Novo Nordisk will be pivotal in further validating applications of the drug delivery technology. 

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