Under the non-exclusive deal – financial terms of which were not disclosed – Hovione will test the feasibility of Merrion’s Gastrointestinal Permeation Enhancement Technology (GIPET) to customers’ drug candidates
GIPET comprises three distinct types of proprietary protein-based penetration enhancers that are designed to improve the uptake of poorly soluble active pharmaceuticals ingredients (APIs) in the small intestine.
A Merrion spokesman told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that: “Hovione will test the feasibility of applying GIPET to customers’ drugs and, if the customer decided to take the formulation forward, Merrion can then negotiate with that customer directly.”
The GIPET tech has been around for more than a decade and has been tested by several “top ten” pharma firms developing oral versions of injectable drugs according to Merrion although, to date, only insulin developer Novo Nordisk has been named publically.
Merrion is also "in advanced discussions with the US FDA over the design of a Phase III trial of MER 101, an oral version of a biphosphonate that recent academic clinical research reinforces the likely efficacy of in the treatment of early stage breast cancer in post-menopausal women" according to the spokesman.
Hovione is the first contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) with which Merrion has partnered according to CEO John Fox, who suggested that the Portuguese contractors’ large customer base would help expose GIPET to more potential licensees.
“I am delighted that Merrion Pharmaceuticals is working with a partner of such scale and reputation. Merrion and Hovione represent complementary offerings to companies seeking to develop tablet versions of compounds that otherwise may have been administered by injection or never reached patients at all.”
The Merrion agreement fits with other recent solubility enhancement focused deals and investments Hovione has signed in recent years.
In 2009 for example, Hovione purchased aseptic spray drying technology from Acusphere citing customer demand for bioavailability enhancement processing. In 2011 the firm partnered with Particles sciences in another solubility-focused accord.
More recently, Hovione has teamed up with Solvias to access the Swiss API maker’s solid state chemistry capabilities.