The aim of the research collaboration, which is conducted at both MIT in Boston, US and at Novo Nordisk's research facilities in Måløv and Hillerød, Denmark, is to develop the next generation of drug delivery devices as an alternative to parenteral or injection-based delivery of peptides. Professor Robert Langer's laboratory are world-leading experts in creating new approaches for delivering drugs such as peptides and proteins across complex barriers in the body such as the blood-brain barrier, the intestine, the lung and the skin. Together with Dr Giovanni Traverso, a gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer at Harvard Medical School, and research affiliate of MIT, they will lead a team in the development of a platform enabling the oral delivery of peptides.
There are many challenges of developing and producing a reliable peptide delivery vehicle. They include avoiding premature degradation in the body, overcoming poor peptide transport over epithelial barriers, limiting variability of absorption (caused, for example, by interaction with food in the stomach), and producing both peptide and the delivery vehicle in sufficient scale and numbers cost-effectively. 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.
"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," says Peter Kurtzhals, senior vice president and head of global research at Novo Nordisk.
Robert Langer, professor and head of the Langer Laboratory at MIT, says, "We are very excited to be doing research sponsored by Novo Nordisk to address one of the current greatest challenges in drug delivery."
The collaboration will establish a number of research positions to be hosted by the Langer Laboratory and funded by Novo Nordisk. The initial term of the collaboration is three years with the option to extend for up to three additional years.
Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with more than 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. This heritage has given us experience and capabilities that also enable us to help people defeat other serious chronic conditions: haemophilia, growth disorders and obesity. Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximate ly 39,700 people in 75 countries and markets its products in more than 180 countries.