Novo Nordisk taps Zosano's microneedle patch for diabetes drug delivery

Zosano's microneedle patch delivers drugs via the top layer of skin.--Courtesy of Zosano

Zosano Pharma, the developer of a microneedle patch for various applications, has signed on with pharma giant Novo Nordisk ($NVO) to deliver semaglutide, an analogue used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Zosano is set to collect $60 million for the first product in the deal and $55 million for each additional one.

Zosano's ZP patch, about the size and shape of a quarter, delivers compounds such as peptides, proteins, small molecules and vaccines into the skin's outer layer using a dry coating on an array of titanium microneedles. The entire patch is applied with a reusable applicator for a controlled dose. The patch itself was originally developed by Alza, now owned by Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ).

Under the deal, Novo will have exclusive worldwide development and commercialization licensing of the semaglutide product. The glucagon-like peptide-1 is Novo's investigational human analogue for a once-weekly treatment for Type 2 diabetics.

"We look forward to working with Novo Nordisk, a global leader in the field of diabetes, to develop a best in class product for glucose control in Type 2 diabetics," Zosano CEO Vikram Lamba said in a statement. "Our goal in combining semaglutide with Zosano's microneedle patch system is to offer weekly dosing, room temperature stability and self-administration without the need for a subcutaneous injection."

The ZP patch has passed early- and mid-stage trials, according to the company, in more than 450 patients. The company is primarily known for its lead product, a treatment for severe osteoporosis delivering the drug teriparatide, now in Phase III. For that, Zosano signed a deal with Asahi Kasei Pharma in 2011 for up to $32.5 million.

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