University of Bristol spinout Ziylo has been acquired by Novo Nordisk in a deal worth up to $800 million. Ziylo has been pioneering the use of its platform technology – synthetic glucose binding molecules – for therapeutic and diagnostic applications.  The acquisition gives Novo Nordisk full rights to Ziylo’s platform to develop glucose responsive insulins. This technology could be key in developing the next generation of insulin leading to safer and more effective therapy.

Ziylo was co-founded by Dr Harry Destecroix, CEO while finishing his PhD in the Anthony Davis Lab at the University of Bristol. He is also the co-founder of Unit DX, along with Tom Smart, CFO and Keith MacDonald, Chairman. Ziylo’s glucose binding molecules are synthetic molecules that were designed by Professor Anthony Davis at the University of Bristol. These stable, synthetic molecules exhibit an unprecedented selectivity to glucose in complex environments such as blood. The combination of this technology with state-of-the-art insulin engineering pioneered by Novo Nordisk aspires to realise the world’s first glucose responsive insulin and transform the treatment of diabetes.

Dr Harry Destecroix

Harry (left) said “Novo Nordisk is the ideal company to maximise the potential of the Ziylo glucose binding molecules in glucose responsive insulins and diabetes applications, and it brings hope of a truly groundbreaking treatment to diabetes patients. Novo Nordisk is the leader in the diabetes field, with deep clinical development and regulatory expertise and an established commercial infrastructure to deliver important new therapies to patients.”

Prior to closing the acquisition, certain research activities have been spun out of Ziylo to a new company, Carbometrics, which has entered into research collaboration with Novo Nordisk. Carbometrics has licensed rights to develop non-therapeutic applications of glucose binding molecules, with a focus on developing continuous glucose monitoring applications.  It will remain on the Unit DX site in Bristol.

Novo Nordisk acquires all shares in Ziylo for an upfront payment and earn-outs with contingent milestone payments. Total payments under the agreement could ultimately exceed 800 million dollars upon the achievement of certain development, regulatory and sales milestones by Novo Nordisk.