The collaboration will see contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Almac offer its clients Novozymes’ Recombumin Flex technology in the development of drugs with improved half-life extension (HLE) and drug targeting.
The companies have collaborated in peptide and small molecule conjugation for the past few years, Dennis Geffroy, VP Business Development at Almac Science told this publication, and this deal anticipates the “opening up new opportunities that [the two companies] might not find by operating independently.”
He added: “Novozymes will give us a broader reach into customers developing chemical drugs that might not be aware of the benefits that a biological carrier like Albumin can bring.”
The benefit of albumin (the main protein of human plasma) being used is that “it has a half-life of 19 days,” substantially improving the pharmacokinetics of small molecule and peptide drugs, Geffroy explained.
Furthermore, “Albumin can also target oncology drugs to solid tumours where it naturally accumulates,” he said, as in the development of Aldoxorubicin by CytRx. Phase 2b trial results announced recently showed the drug had a higher overall response rate compared to Janssen’s chemotherapeutic agent Doxil (doxorubicin).
Recombumin Flex Platform
Novozymes Biopharma Marketing Director Dermot Pearson spoke to us about the half-life extension platform, saying how its series of engineered human albumins with modified binding to the human FcRn receptor is key in modulating the pharmacokinetics of albumin.
“By increasing the affinity of modified albumins to the receptor this increases the half-life of the engineered albumins,” he said.
“The combination of these engineered albumins with a drug candidate offers the potential for increased therapeutic half-life in a manner previously unachievable with native human albumin and other HLE technologies.”
For a patient, this equates to weekly or even monthly dosing for therapies currently dosed daily, Pearson explained.
With CMOs increasingly offering technology and services for antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) - in the last two weeks SAFC and Carbogen Amcis have both invested in capabilities - we asked Almac if this collaboration was complementary to its current ADC custom synthesis services.
“The technology for conjugating drugs to antibodies is highly likely to be transferrable to albumin,” said Geffroy.
Furthermore, Pearson added in ADCs “there may be some advantages to using albumin as the drug carrier, such as ease of manufacture at industrial scale, and avoiding antibody-related intellectual property concerns.”