Novo Nordisk : Tomas Landh, continuing to innovate in the areas of diabetes and haemophilia




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Video title: Novo Nordisk : Tomas Landh, continuing to innovate in the areas of diabetes and haemophilia
Released on: November 30, 2012. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review filmed at BioPharm America in Boston, Fintan Walton talks to Tomas Landh, Director of Strategy and Sourcing at Novo Nordisk
Diabetes research at Novo Nordisk
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BioPharm America, in Boston in 2012. On this show I have Tomas Landh, who is a Director of Strategy and Sourcing at Novo Nordisk , welcome.
Tomas Landh:
Thank you very much Fintan, its pleasure to be back.
Fintan Walton:
Good. Now obviously Novo Nordisk is famous for insulin and in particular diabetes and that's one of the areas that you lead in and then your expertise is in the diabetes area, so what I would like to find from you is could you give us an update on where research is going in the area of diabetes both generally, but also specifically within Novo Nordisk?
Tomas Landh:
So I think we are doing, we have a lot of efforts, of course we continue with our oral insulin and GLP-1efforts in terms both for convenience and also hopefully medical benefits, and that's a continued journey of ours. Of course we do refinements on the insulin and GLP-1's to make it more convenient, but also to engineer or continue our efforts in engineering insulin's and glucagon-like polypeptides to perfection I would say to lead to better efficacy, to lead to better compliance at the end and hopefully better products to the patients.
Fintan Walton:
So compliance is still obviously one of the big issues, and with the oral insulin what stage is that at now?
Tomas Landh:
So we are in Phase I with the number of opportunities where we have sourced technologies from outside, but we are also developing internal programs within that, so that's very much a collaborative effort that we are doing.
Novo Nordisk 's Innovation strategy
Fintan Walton:
Sure, okay. So in terms of the innovation that resides within Novo Nordisk, how much of your innovation is within your organization and how much of that is through the alliances that you have outside?
Tomas Landh:
So within our core areas protein engineering in particular I would say the majority of the innovation is made internally, as it is also in areas other core areas like formulation, liquid formulations, as well as our device R&D. We have maintained there or chosen a strategy to maintain the expertise in-house, of course we consult and we do made minor products with external partners also in our core areas, but we want to master those, surrounding or supporting functions we do a lot of sourcing, a lot of innovation sourcing outside, that goes from formulations that are other than liquids, solid dose, it can be emulsion techniques, it can be stability add-on features, technologies that enhances there anything that has to do with the uptake making the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics more attractive to us, there is plenty of those technologies out there that we have looked at and are still very aggressively pursuing and they are trying to find innovation in that space too. All together I would say that the split right now is perhaps 80:20 internal versus in partnership, but we are looking at growing there external as I think everyone else does in the pharma space and so we haven't revealed our strategy on that in more detail, but I can say that we are looking to grow that substantially.
Status of Novo Nordisk Biotech Fund
Fintan Walton:
Okay, now one of the things that you had was the Novo Nordisk Fund, innovation fund I think it was, is that still investing or is that stopped investing, what's the status of that, and what is Novo Nordisk's overall attitude to taking investments in outside companies?
Tomas Landh:
So we will start from your last question there Fintan, we are very interested in investing in start-ups and new technology companies, that remains the same as always. However our Novo Nordisk Biotech Fund which you referred to it has, no it's not longer seeking, actively seeking investment opportunities, it's objectives were both financial and strategic return and it's difficult to have those two fulfilled at the same time of course, so it was simply too narrow scope of the biotech fund at the time being, so we decided to locate the funds to the research units instead and do the investments in our innovation, in our sourcing teams basically.
Fintan Walton:
Okay.
Tomas Landh:
Same scope but no financial return required and I think that gives it a wonderful opportunity to invest strategically in the long-term investments as well as in more, not so much core areas, in more future technologies and future areas that we look to expand into.
Novo Nordisk 's Research Innovation Award Scheme
Fintan Walton:
So of course another important way of getting money into research is through an award scheme, and I believe that Novo Nordisk run this innovation award every year, could you tell us how that operates?
Tomas Landh:
That's right, we initiated this a year ago, then we had our second call 1st of August a deadline this year, it's a diabetes research innovation award. It's two types, one exploratory, and one more for translational aspects of already established research. It's an award that is calling throughout North America, so it's US and Canadian PI's that can submit proposals, and we have a Review Committee and a process at Novo Nordisk and we select the winners and we call them in for specific review at site as well if needed.
Fintan Walton:
So how many of these awards, how many winners are there of these awards?
Tomas Landh:
So we try to match what is done from NIH for an example, so it's approximately between 10 and 20% of number of applications that are awarded. So it's a substantial part, and there one important aspect of these awards is as there is a support of a intellectual support and a anchor person at Novo Nordisk that can provide support and help throughout the product and this is very important in the exploratory research awards, whether it's early days and the PI's might need guidance from a diabetes specialist.
Fintan Walton:
So that, so there is not just money it's further support from Novo Nordisk as well?
Tomas Landh:
That is right, yes.
Other therapy areas of strategic importance
Fintan Walton:
Okay, I said right at the very beginning Novo Nordisk is very famous for its work in diabetes, but what are the other therapy areas that are of strategic importance for Novo Nordisk, and where are you in each of those therapy areas?
Tomas Landh:
So haemophilia of course, where we have NovoSeven have been the market leader and NovoSeven for many years now the originator and the pioneer. So haemophilia and replacement factors is a focus of us, so that includes a strategy which is covering the whole portfolio factor XIII, factor IX, factor VIII, factor VII and various changes of those as well with respect to mainly PK and PD, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics effects of these, so fast acting, long acting variants of these are in the pipeline as we speak. As a matter of fact we have both factor IX and factor VIII in Phase III as well as factor XIII under filed for registration.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, and then outside the area of haemophilia?
Tomas Landh:
Autoimmune, chronic disorders of course except MS, basically we are really very interested in RA, lupus, psoriasis as well as Crohn's disease . And we have several products in the pipeline for that so and the progression looks very good I think in particularly on anti-IL-20 and anti-IL-21.
Fintan Walton:
And specifically for what particular use?
Tomas Landh:
This anti-IL-20 is for RA, and anti-IL-21 we explore for treatment of Crohn's disease.
Fintan Walton:
Crohn's disease, right. And when you say there they are making good advance, what stage are they in the clinical trials then?
Tomas Landh:
Phase II, and Phase I.
Fintan Walton:
Respectively?
Tomas Landh:
Respectively, these are in-licensed to some in genetics some years ago now.
Fintan Walton:
Sure.
Tomas Landh:
And actually it's worth mentioning that we have been pursuing the in-licensing aggressively within the area of autoimmune chronic disorders.
Fintan Walton:
So in the end is Novo Nordisk really a protein based therapeutics company?
Tomas Landh:
I would say that's the only thing we do. What we are good at is protein engineering and of course there everything that you need to know after you engineered them, start to formulate and deliver your protein that's also hardcore areas for Novo Nordisk of course.
Fintan Walton:
So the knowledge that you've built up through obviously delivery of insulin is had benefits to the rest of the programs that you are developing currently?
Tomas Landh:
Of course, yes, no doubt about it.
Plans over next five years
Fintan Walton:
So when we look at Novo Nordisk and the activities it's doing, obviously, hopefully it will stay in the area of diabetes and hold its position there and also in haemophilia where you are well established, what can we expect in terms of, what type of company is Novo Nordisk is going to look like in the next five-years?
Tomas Landh:
That's a very good question. Now we do look at a brilliant future and we are also announced that in our corporate strategy and that we made public I think only some months ago now. We look at a steady growth and it will be diabetes that is driving it, we are forecasting double digit growth in terms of volume and value for at least foreseeable future, I can't say how many, many quarters, but no doubt many. We also see that if we are successful in our haemophilia portfolio that will also be a driver, but not to the extent of diabetes of course. So we, our strategy says that we want to maintain and expand our leadership in diabetes, we want to create a leadership in haemophilia, and we also want to expand or explore the area of obesity as well, I think that's very important, we have a very large opportunity with Liraglutide for the treatment of severe obesity, and I think that's an area where we also hope to see a lot of growth.
Fintan Walton:
Tomas Landh, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Tomas Landh:
Thank you. My pleasure.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Tomas Landh
Director of Strategy and Sourcing
At the time of recording this PTV interview Tomas Landh serves as Director of Strategy and Sourcing at Novo Nordisk , Diabetes Research Unit, where he is responsible for scouting and evaluation of in particular, protein therapeutics and new drug delivery technologies. Tomas is also deeply involved in fostering partnerships with academia and biotech industries and in strategic initiatives with the Diabetes Research Unit.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with 87 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. The company also has leading positions within haemophilia care, growth hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy. Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 30,000 employees in 76 countries, and markets its products in 179 countries. Novo Nordisk's B shares are listed on NASDAQ OMX Copenhagen (Novo-B). Its ADRs are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NVO).