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Novo Nordisk Explores $800 Million Ziylo Acquisition to Build Insulin Pipeline

Novo Nordisk Explores $800 Million Ziylo Acquisition to Build Insulin Pipeline

Early-stage glucose binding molecules, which could be used to develop insulins that are responsive to glucose, were the main driver behind Novo Nordisk’s acquisition of Ziylo.

Ziylo, a biotech spin-off company from the University of Bristol, has been bought out by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk in a deal worth upwards of $800 million. Early-stage glucose binding molecules, which could be used to develop insulins that are responsive to glucose, were the main driver behind Novo Nordisk’s acquisition of Ziylo.

While Novo Nordisk hasn’t disclosed the exact terms of the deal, the company did confirm that an upfront payment was used to acquire all shares of Ziylo. When development, regulatory and sales milestones are taken into affect, the company believes the deal could exceed $800 million.

Currently, individuals with insulin-dependant type 1 or type 2 diabetes must regularly inject themselves with the hormone in order to control blood sugar levels. However, overdosing on insulin can lead to a dangerous condition known as hypoglycemia in which blood sugar levels drop too low. This prevents patients from optimally controlling their blood sugar levels, and ultimately managing their diabetes.

Glucose responsive insulins could help to remove the risk of hypoglycemia, giving diabetic individuals better control over their chronic condition. According to Novo Nordisk, developing these types of next-generative insulins is a key strategic area, making its acquisition of Ziylo a smart move.

“We believe the glucose binding molecules discovered by the Ziylo team together with Novo Nordisk world-class insulin capabilities have the potential to lead to the development of glucose responsive insulins which we hope can remove the risk of hypoglycaemia and ensure optimal glucose control for people with diabetes,” said Marcus Schindler, senior vice president, Global Drug Discovery, Novo Nordisk.

The synthetic glucose binding molecular designed by University of Bristol scientists at Ziylo have the advantage of being highly-selective towards glucose even in complex mixtures such as blood. Since there’s no glucose responsive insulin on the market, Novo Nordisk hopes to be the first to release such a product in the diabetes space.

Complicating the deal slightly was the establishment of Carbometrics, a spin-off of Ziylo, before the acquisition could be finalized. Carbometrics is concerned with the development of non-therapeutic applications of the glucose binding molecules pioneered by Ziylo, the rights to which the company will now license from Novo Nordisk. In addition, Carbometrics will help the Danish drugmaker optimize those same glucose binding molecules for use in glucose responsive insulins.

“Novo Nordisk is the ideal company to maximise the potential of the Ziylo glucose binding molecules in glucose responsive insulins and diabetes applications, and it brings hope of a truly groundbreaking treatment to diabetes patients,” said Dr. Harry Destecroix, chief executive officer and co-founder of Ziylo. “Novo Nordisk is the leader in the diabetes field, with deep clinical development and regulatory expertise and an established commercial infrastructure to deliver important new therapies to patients.”