Enteris Biopharma rose from the ashes of Unigene in July, and announced last week it has entered its first partnership, licensing its oral drug delivery and recombinant manufacturing technologies to Nordic Bioscience’s fully owned subsidiary KeyBioScience.
Enteris President and CFO Brian Zietsman told in-Pharmatechnologist.com the deal would see Nordic provide the firm with its active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and Enteris would develop the molecules using the Peptelligence peptide and small molecule oral drug delivery platform, as well as manufacture tablets for clinical trials.
“Nordic has a lot of molecules that it wants to deliver orally, it’s looked at a lot of technology and it has chosen us,” he said. “It’s Enteris’ first licencing transaction and, if you think about all the employees who came over in July, to incur a licensing deal within three months of that we are certainly very excited.”
Enteris’ VP Business Development, Tim Saxon, added that “in many ways it’s a traditional deal in terms of an upfront payment, milestones and royalties on success,” though actual figures remain confidential. However, he continued: “We really do prefer that type of deal where we are able to share some of the risk and some of the rewards with our partner.”
He also commented on how quickly the Nordic partnership came about, adding Enteris has a “quite a wide spread of potential license deals” in the pipeline, though “may have to be a little more patient” before announcing the next deals.
The Peptelligence platform is used to develop oral versions of drugs only available in injectable form due to the size of the molecule. The platform uses organic acid and acyl carnitine as excipients to increase permeability in the intestine and aid absorption across the intestinal wall.
Zietsman said: “Whenever you go the oral route, your bioavailability is always going to drop dramatically. It all comes down to what’s the level [of bioavailability] you can get, and does it make sense commercially?”
Citing an example of his former firm Unigene’s partnership with Cara Therapeutics, he told us the firm managed to get a bioavailability of 16% for Cara’s peptide which they were “thrilled with.”
“The larger the molecule, the lower the bioavailability,” Saxon added. “We know of very valuable deals made in this arena, where, in one particular case, [a molecule achieved] slightly less than 1% absolute bioavailability.”
However, “if it works, the bioavailability doesn’t matter,” he said. “We got excited a week ago as we we were working on a particular molecule and got a result that looked like it was well over 50% in preliminary findings. For that particular molecule that is fantastic, but for another molecule 5% would be fantastic.”
As for rival platforms, Saxon told us he hasn’t “seen anything that looks remotely as good. Generally we are about three times as good as our competitors and sometimes we’ve seen data where we are ten times higher in bioavailability.”