GSK obtains rights to inhaled nanoparticles made using Liquidia's PRINT platform

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) now has rights to develop inhaled therapeutics using Liquidia's PRINT particle engineering technology. The development builds on a drug delivery alliance between the two companies that commenced in 2012.

In addition to the upfront payment made in 2012, Research Triangle Park, NC's Liquidia receives an additional option fee from GSK, continued R&D funding, and the opportunity to earn regulatory and milestone payments down the road. Liquidia retains its ability to independently develop an inhaled therapy for a particular disease field, according to a release.

"We are very pleased with the progress that has been made over the past three years in our collaboration with GSK. They are a great partner in our exploration of inhaled therapeutic options using our novel PRINT technology," said Liquidia CEO Neal Fowler in a statement. "GSK's decision to exercise this option initiates a new and exciting chapter in our relationship. We remain confident in the strength of this collaboration to navigate the path ahead to develop novel inhaled therapies."

"PRINT is a templated nanofabrication process that builds on advanced technologies from the the microelectronics industry, and uses it uniquely to make particles of controlled size, shape and composition," says Liquidia founder Joseph DeSimone in a company video.

Patterns are made on templates using lithographic techniques borrowed from the semiconductor industry. Then, molds with indentations in the shape of the chosen pattern are made using the templates and filled with precursors to the drug. The particles are then pulled out of the mold, creating precisely calibrated nanoparticles, the video explains.

Advantages for inhaled therapeutics include precise control of particle size and shape that could facilitate drug delivery to reach difficult areas of the lung, minimize particular aggregation and improve release profiles, the company says.

Liquidia was spun out of the University of North Carolina in 2004. Since then, the company has spawned Envisia Therapeutics to explore applications of PRINT to deliver medicinal particles into the eye, and Lq3 Pharmaceuticals, which is utilizing the drug delivery and manufacturing technology to develop oral medications.

GSK's portfolio of inhaled meds is led by its Ellipta franchise for COPD and asthma. The company has a goal of leveraging innovative drug delivery technologies in 80% of its portfolio by 2020.

It hopes the latest drug delivery partnership helps turn around its fortunes; during the prior quarter, net income fell 17.7% year-over-year.

In fact, layoffs at GSK's Enteroendocrine Discovery Performance Unit led to the formation of another Research Triangle startup. Just months after its creation, Phoundry Pharmaceuticals and its peptides targeting diabetes were purchased by Intarcia, maker of a subdermal pump to delivers drugs for the chronic disease.

- read the release