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Janssen, Biotech Partner on Drug Delivery Technology



17 December 2014. Halozyme Therapeutics, a biotechnology company in San Diego, is licensing its drug delivery technology for under-the-skin injections to Janssen Biotech, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical companies and a division of Johnson & Johnson. The deal is expected to bring Halozyme up to $581 million in initial and milestone payments.

Halozyme develops synthetic enzymes, proteins that affect the matrix or framework of cells. Its technology platform, called Enhanze, focuses on the enzyme hyaluronidase that acts by degrading hyaluronan, a naturally occurring gel-like substance in skin and cartilage, but also in tumor cells. When formulated for drug delivery, hyaluronidase can help biologics and drugs spread in the body, when injected under the skin.

The company says hyaluronidase can be programmed to operate under specified conditions, such as when patients show certain physical traits, or at times that minimizes side effects. The degradation of hyaluronan is temporary, says the company, which allows restoration of the degraded cell matrices.

Under the deal, Janssen, in Horsham, Pennsylvania, receives a worldwide license to design and commercialize up to 5 products, using Enhanze technology to combine hyaluronidase with compounds developed by Janssen. Halozyme receives $15 million upfront from Janssen, and is eligible for up to another $566 million on Janssen’s completion of development, regulatory, and sales milestones. In addition, Halozyme can receive royalties on sales of products using Enhanze technology.

Halozyme earlier established partnerships with pharmaceutical companies Hoffman-La Roche, Pfizer, and Baxter Healthcare applying Enhanze technology for delivery of biologics to treat cancer. The company’s product Hylenex is approved by the FDA for subcutaneous (under the skin) injections to improve absorption of radioactive compounds.

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