Novo Nordisk inks deal with ZymoGenetics

BAGSVAERD, Denmark Novo Nordisk has signed a deal with a U.S. biotech company to license a drug for treating autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, the Danish drug maker has announced.

Novo Nordisk will pay $24 million upfront to Seattle-based ZymoGenetics to license a monoclonal antibody that inhibits the protein interleukin-21, or IL-21, which research has indicated can cause inflammatory diseases when over-expressed in the body. Novo Nordisk hopes to develop the drug as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and may pay ZymoGenetics up to $157.5 million in milestone payments. The acquisition is part of Novo Nordisk’s efforts to develop treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.

“It was important for us to secure the worldwide rights to the IL-21 mAb project as well as worldwide patent rights to IL-21 antibodies, and we look forward to initiating a phase 1 trial with this IL-21 mAb in 2010,” Novo Nordisk EVP and chief science officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said.

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