As part of the agreement, Novo Nordisk has an option to add other disease targets to the global license. In return, Vect-Horus is eligible for an undisclosed upfront payment in addition to up to $327 million in development, regulatory and commercial milestones across all programs. If any treatments from the deal make it to the market, Vect-Horus can also expect tiered royalties on sales.
In a public release, Alexandre Tokay, co-founder and CEO of Vect-Horus, called the deal with Novo Nordisk an “important collaboration for Vect-Horus that underscores the potential of our approach to facilitate the targeting of molecules to different organs.”
“This agreement is another important step in our strategy to establish commercial partnerships and to secure significant short-term cash to implement our technology and development programs,” he added. “We look forward to collaborating with Novo Nordisk to unlock the potential of our technology platform and develop more efficient treatments”.
Delivering drugs to target organs is a major challenge in the biopharma space, according to Vect-Horus’ website. The brain is particularly hard for many large molecule drugs to reach as it is protected by the selective blood-brain barrier. Additionally, some treatments and theranostic agents can be trapped in the liver and kidneys, making it harder to minimize drug doses.
Easier to target therapeutic or diagnostic agents
To address this obstacle, Vect-Horus was established in 2005 with the aim to make it easier to target therapeutic or diagnostic agents to specific sites in the body, including tumors and the brain. The firm’s VECTrans platform conjugates a payload therapy with so-called molecular vectors, designed to trigger proteins on the cell surface that transport molecules across cellular barriers and improve the treatment’s penetration to a target tissue.
Novo Nordisk is set to be a key player in the obesity drug market after the success of Wegovy, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight loss in 2021.
The big pharma’s senior vice president of global research technologies Brian Vandahl welcomed the deal with Vect-Horus, publicly stating that the ability to accurately target therapeutics is "critical to our ambition to address unmet needs within serious chronic diseases."
Vect-Horus has raised a total of €40 million ($42.6 million) in equity and subsidies since its founding. This includes the closing of a €12 million ($12.8 million) Series D round in 2021 to finance the development of new vectors and theragnostic agents, in addition to validating its delivery technology for use with antibodies and nucleic acids.