Novo Nordisk and MIT on the hunt for oral peptide route

By Fiona BARRY contact

- Last updated on GMT

If the project is successful, peptide drugs could switch from injections to pill form
If the project is successful, peptide drugs could switch from injections to pill form
Novo Nordisk is collaborating with MIT on new ways to deliver peptides.

The joint research into oral delivery aims to develop the next generation of peptide technology, as an alternative to injectable or parenteral administration.

The project is taking place at both Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Novo Nordisk’s research facilities in Måløv and Hillerød, Denmark.

Robert Langer, head of MIT’s Langer Laboratory, has experience discovering new drug delivery methods for peptides and proteins across complex barriers like the intestine, the lung, the skin, and the blood-brain barrier. He is working with Giovanni Traverso, a gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer at Harvard Medical School, and a research affiliate of MIT.

The body’s barriers

Developing a reliable peptide delivery technique is a challenge. Scientists must prevent the drug prematurely degrading in the body, and work out how to transport it through epithelial barriers, which complicate rates of absorption (for instance as drugs interact with food in the stomach).

Another difficulty is finding a method which can yield a sufficient scale at a reasonable cost.

If these challenges can be overcome, as recent research suggests, drug delivery devices hold great therapeutic promise for a plethora of diseases where patients need to take frequent injections,​” said the researchers.

Several researchers will be hired at the Langer Laboratory, funded by Novo Nordisk. The collaboration is expected to last at least three years, with the option to extend it for an extra three.

Drug delivery devices hold great potential and I am looking forward to this exciting research collaboration with one of the world’s leading drug delivery laboratories,​” said Peter Kurtzhals, senior vice president and head of global research at Novo Nordisk.

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