Sector News

Novozymes spins off pharma unit

January 20, 2016
Life sciences

Novozymes is best known as a maker of enzymes used in industrial applications ranging from biofuels production to beer making, but the company has also spent the last nine years developing a way to make a protein that can stabilize drugs and vaccines in the blood.

This biopharmaceuticals work has always been a smaller part of Novozymes’ (NASDAQ OMX: NZYM) overall business. Now the company has determined that its biopharma unit has better growth prospects on its own. Denmark-based Novozymes, which operates its North American headquarters in Franklinton, NC, announced Tuesday that its biopharma unit has been spun off into an independent company called Albumedix. In its fourth quarter and full-year 2015 financial report, Novozymes says pharma “is no longer a strategic growth platform for Novozymes and will not be a focus area for investments.”

Peter Rosholm, who was previously Novozymes’ vice president of the biopharma unit, is now the CEO of Albumedix. The new company, which employs 100, is based in Bagsvaerd, Denmark.

The Novozymes biopharma unit’s R&D focused on albumin, the most prevalent protein found in blood. The pharmaceutical industry has used recombinant albumin, a form of the protein made from human or cow serum, in pharmaceutical and vaccine production. But fears of blood-borne contamination, among other concerns, spurred demand for an animal-free albumin alternative. Novozymes developed a way to make albumin from a proprietary yeast strain. This manufactured albumin, which the company says is free of any human- or animal-derived material, is called Recombumin.

Recombumin already has customers. Novozymes says that Merck (NYSE: MRK) has used the protein to stabilize its vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox.

Novozymes also developed a second albumin product, Veltis. The company says Veltis works by extending the half-life of drugs, which prolongs a drug’s effect. Novozymes says GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) has been using Veltis since 2014, employing the product in a diabetes drug with weekly instead of daily dosage.

Albumedix says other companies are evaluating potential use of Veltis. The company also says it will also pursue development of its own drug candidates using the Veltis technology.

Albumedix is wholly owned by Novozymes, and the spinoff will continue to be consolidated into the parent company’s financial reporting. The company’s executive team will report to an independent board of directors chaired by Don deBethizy, whose pharmaceuticals experience includes his tenure as the CEO of the now defunct Winston-Salem, NC-based drug developer Targacept.

By Frank Vinluan

Source: Xconomy

comments closed

Related News

October 2, 2022

GSK names Julie Brown, a 25-year AstraZeneca veteran, its first woman CFO

Life sciences

Five years ago, GSK made headlines when it hired Emma Walmsley to become the first woman to run a major pharmaceutical company. Now the Big Pharma has brought in another woman to control the company’s finances. Julie Brown will be GSK’s next chief financial officer. Brown, currently the chief operating and financial officer at fashion and beauty brand Burberry Group, is set to replace Iain Mackay.

October 2, 2022

Moderna creates new launch preparation role, poaches Novartis exec as manufacturing lead

Life sciences

Moderna created a new role responsible for “building out the company’s organization to support its growing pipeline.” Starting first thing 2023, Juan Andres, Moderna’s manufacturing head, will step into this new role under the title president of strategic partnerships and enterprise expansion, the company said Thursday.

October 2, 2022

Torrent Pharma to acquire Curatio for $245.16m

Life sciences

The latest takeover is anticipated to boost the presence of Torrent in the dermatology segment. Indian company Torrent Pharmaceuticals has signed a definitive agreement for the complete acquisition of Curatio Healthcare for $245.16m (Rs20bn).