Partnership adds to existing Phase I-stage oral GLP-1 receptor agonist program.

Emisphere Technologies will receive $5 million from Novo Nordisk up front as part of an exclusive agreement to develop oral formulations of the latter’s insulin products using Emisphere’s Eligen® technology. Emisphere could earn another $52.5million in development and sales milestones.

The agreement is the second between the firms, which have been collaborating on the development of oral formulations of GLP-1 receptor agonists since June 2008, and have progressed one candidate into Phase I clinical development.

Emisphere is exploiting its Eligen technology to develop oral forms of injectable drugs or poorly absorbed compounds. The approach uses carriers to facilitate or enable transport of therapeutic macromolecules and highly charged molecules across biological membranes using the body’s natural passive transcellular transport system. Once delivered, the carrier dissociates from the drug molecule, which can then re-establish its natural conformation and therapeutically active state, the firm claims. Emisphere has designed and synthesized a library of approximately 4,000 delivery agents, which vary in terms of chemical structure, solubility, hydrophobicity, electrostatic, and other physical and chemical properties.

The firm’s Eligen-based clinical pipeline includes a Phase III-stage oral calcitonin that is being developed in partnership with Novartis for the treatment of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. In-house projects undergoing Phase II development include an oral insulin and oral heparin.

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