Novo Nordisk buys Bristol University biotech in £620m deal

pharmafile | August 22, 2018 | News story | Research and Development Bristol, Novo Nordisk, Ziylo, diabetes 

Novo Nordisk has bought a tiny biotech company spun out of Bristol University in a deal that could be worth more than £620 million.

Ziylo, a small biotech set up by Professor Anthony Davis, his PhD student Harry Destecroix and businessman Tom Smart was sold to the Danish multinational who were attracted to the company due to the potential of its ‘glucose responsive insulins’ whose activities respond to levels of insulin in the blood.

The responsive insulin would thus prevent hypoglycaemia and protect diabetes patients against dangerous falls in blood glucose levels.

“We’ll be creating a novel insulin with glucose sensing ability that would replace current insulins,” said Marcus Schindler, Senior Vice-President for drug discovery at Novo Nordisk. “The idea is for the insulin to be active when glucose levels are high but not when they fall below a certain threshold.”

As the majority stakeholder in the firm with 23% of shares, Dr Destecroix stands to make £143 million from the deal if agreed upon milestones are achieved.

Since being formed in 2014, the company has received just £2 million in funding from individual angel investors and government grants.

Dr Destecroix said that if all goes well Novo Nordisk could begin testing Ziylo’s technologies in clinical trials within the next three years. The research and development work will take place in Novo Nordisk’s new £115 million diabetes research centre in Oxford.   

Louis Goss

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