Diabetics around the world, especially those who endure daily insulin injections, will likely celebrate the day when needles can go away. The world's biggest insulin maker, Novo Nordisk ($NVO), might have just made that day a little closer with the help of drug-delivery company Emisphere. The two companies have signed an exclusive development and license agreement to develop oral insulin using Emisphere's Eligen drug-delivery platform.
Emisphere says Eligen makes it possible to deliver a therapeutic molecule orally without altering its chemical form or biological integrity. The technology improves the ability of the body to absorb small and large molecule drugs by means other than injection, according to the company. Through the Eligen system, Emisphere says, delivery agents or "carriers" help transport of therapeutic macromolecules across membranes like the gastrointestinal tract.
"To date, our collaboration with Novo Nordisk has been very productive, and today's agreement has the potential to offer significant new solutions to millions of people with diabetes worldwide. Finally, it also serves to further validate our Eligen Technology," Emisphere CEO Michael Novinski said in a release.
The Eligen drug-delivery platform is also being tested as a possible appetite suppressant by delivering anti-hunger hormones.
The deal with Novo Nordisk includes $57.5 million in product development. The Dutch company said it hopes to start Phase I trials with Emisphere within a year. Diabetics should not throw away their needles just yet, however. Novo Nordisk says it will probably be another decade before a diabetes pill is on the market.