Novo Nordisk has acquired 100% of shares in UK-based biotechnology firm Ziylo under a potential deal worth more than $800m.

A University of Bristol spin-off, Ziylo primarily focuses on leveraging synthetic glucose binding molecules for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes.

As a result of the transaction, Novo Nordisk gains all rights to the glucose binding molecule platform for the development of glucose responsive insulins.

Glucose responsive insulins are a central to Novo Nordisk’s efforts to create safe and more effective insulin therapy.

This next-generation insulin is expected to help address risk of hypoglycaemia, which is the primary risk in insulin therapy and is considered one of the main hindrances to optimal glucose control.

In turn, the insulin can potentially result in improved metabolic control and overall decrease of diabetes burden for patients.

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Ziylo designed its synthetic glucose binding molecules with high selectivity for glucose. Novo Nordisk expects that merging of Ziylo’s technology with its insulin engineering programme will lead to the creation of first glucose responsive insulin to treat diabetes.

“We believe the glucose binding molecules discovered by the Ziylo team together with Novo Nordisk world-class insulin capabilities have potential.”

Novo Nordisk Global Drug Discovery senior vice-president Marcus Schindler said: “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.”

The acquisition involves upfront payment, as well as earn-outs through contingent milestone payments.

When Novo Nordisk reaches select development, regulatory and sales milestones, the payments could total more than $800m.

Before closing the transaction with Novo Nordisk, Ziylo spun out some of its research activities to a new firm called Carbometrics.

Carbometrics has signed a research agreement with Novo Nordisk to help with ongoing glucose binding molecules optimisation for use in glucose responsive insulins.

The new company has licensed rights to develop non-therapeutic applications of glucose binding molecules.