Novozymes half-life extension tech used in GSK's GLP-1 contender

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Novozymes half-life extension tech used in GSK's GLP-1 contender

Related tags Novo nordisk

GSK’s Eperzan (albiglutide) has become the first approved drug to use the Veltis half-life extension technology and, according to Novozymes, may make it a strong competitor in the GLP-1 agonist market.

Eperzan received approval from the European Commission last week as a once-weekly biological product for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and is the third glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist to have been approved after AstraZeneca’s Bydureon and Novo Nordisk’s market leader drug Victoza.

Yesterday, Novozymes Biopharma announced the drug used its albumin-based Veltis half-life extension technology – previously known as Recombumin Flex​ – and, according to Marketing Director Dermot Pearson, is the first marketed drug to use the tech, though a number of companies are in late stage development with a range of candidate types.

He told “GSK has been applying the technology in their programme for a considerable time,” ​and Veltis – which can be applied to any peptide or protein by genetic fusion or chemical conjugation to the albumin moiety - has a number of advantages for GLP-1 manufacturers.

These include, he said: “The ability to target even monthly dosing, ease of manufacture by avoiding the challenges of antibody production, long IP life,”​ as well as “the use of a plasma protein-related carrier for addressing concerns around immunogenicity and biocompatibility.”

When asked whether the Veltis technology offered any therapeutic advantage over Eperzan’s competitors, Pearson said from Novozyme’s understanding “Eperzan may become the market leading weekly treatment and that could be a strong attraction of patients for taking this drug.”

Alternative methods of extending half-life include PEGylation and Fc fusion. Whilst Novozymes was unaware of anyone developing a pegylated version, Pearson said Eli Lilly’s dulaglutide uses Fc fusion.

Lilly’s GLP-1 is also a once-weekly drug and is currently in late stage development. According to a recent conference call​, dulaglutide is expected to be launched later this year.

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