Company plans 2010 Phase I trial with lead autoimmune and inflammatory disease candidate.

Novo Nordisk negotiated a deal with ZymoGenetics with $24 million up front for extended development rights to the latter’s IL-21 mAb IP. The agreement, which covers a pre-IND candidate, adds North America to Novo Nordisk’s existing non-U.S. license, obtained back in 2001.

The company now has global rights to develop IL-21 antibodies. A Phase I trial with the lead IL-21 mAb is expected to start in 2010. ZymoGenetics could receive another $157.5 million in milestone payments relating to development of this candidate for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases plus future sales royalties. The company retains an option to co-promote the IL-21 mAb in the U.S. in exchange for a $10 million fixed fee and a 15% contribution to the costs of Phase III trials. Triggering the option would also make ZymoGenetics eligible for higher royalties on future sales of the drug.

“It was important for us to secure the worldwide rights to the IL-21 mAb project as well as worldwide patent rights to IL-21 antibodies,” stresses Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Novo Nordisk’s evp and CSO. “Novo Nordisk is currently building a pipeline of products to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease.”

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