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Lilly Licensing Biotech’s Drug Injection Technology

Vaccine syringe


21 December 2015. Eli Lilly and Company is licensing a technology from Halozyme Therapeutics that makes it possible to inject biologic drugs under the skin rather than with intravenous infusions. The deal could bring Halozyme Therapeutics, a biotechnology company in San Diego, as much as $825 million.

Halozyme develops synthetic enzymes, with a technology platform, called Enhanze that adapts the enzyme hyaluronidase. That enzyme 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 small-molecule drugs spread quickly in the body when injected under the skin.

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

Under the agreement, Lilly receives a worldwide license to combine its compounds with the Enhanze technology and jointly develop up to 5 new products. In return, Halozyme receives an initial payment of $25 million, and is eligible to receive up to $160 million for meeting specified development and marketing milestones for each of the 5 new products. Halozyme will also be eligible for royalties on sales of of the new products when taken to market.

In December 2014, Science & Enterprise reported on a similar agreement with Janssen Biotech that could bring Halozyme as much as $581 million. The company licensed its drug-delivery technology to several pharmaceutical manufacturers as well as Lilly and Janssen, including Roche, Baxalta, Pfizer, and AbbVie. In addition, Halozyme’s Hylenex product is approved by the FDA for under-the-skin injections to improve absorption of radioactive compounds.

The company is also developing a cancer drug code-named PEGPH20 designed to break up solid-tumor micro-environments protected by high levels of hyaluronan. PEGPH20 is in early- and intermediate-stage clinical trials as a treatment for pancreatic, gastric, and non-small cell lung cancer.

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