Novo Nordisk has obtained the exclusive worldwide licence for sickle cell disease (SCD) treatments being developed by US biotech company EpiDestiny.
Under the deal, EpiDestiny will retain all rights to develop EPI01 for oncology, and will work with Novo Nordisk to advance the drug for SCD and beta-thalassaemia, another blood condition.
EPI01 is an oral, fixed dose combination of decitabine and tetrahydrouridine that works by increasing the foetal haemoglobin levels to replace the defective haemoglobin in SCD patients.
Decitabine is a DNA methyl-transferase enzyme 1 and tetrahydrouridine inhibits cytidine deaminase. Together they can block red blood cell deformation and improve blood oxygen levels.
Novo Nordisk executive vice-president and chief science officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said: “This is a great opportunity for Novo Nordisk to enter into a new therapeutic area closely related to our existing biopharmaceutical business and thereby utilise our core R&D and commercial capabilities to make a significant difference for patients living with a serious chronic disease.”
EpiDestiny will receive more than $400m in upfront, development and sales milestone payments and will get royalties on net sales.
EpiDestiny president and CEO Santhosh Vadivelu said: “The support we receive from Novo Nordisk will allow EpiDestiny to invest and explore the full potential of EPI01 within oncology and to pursue our other pipeline compounds in oncology and other indications.”
The company secured rare paediatric disease, fast track and orphan designations from the US Food and Drug Administration and has completed a Phase I trial of EPI01 in subjects with SCD.