By Brian Brus
Courtesy of The Journal Record
OKLAHOMA CITY – Caisson Biotech’s licensing deal with Novo Nordisk last year has resulted in an expanded scope of diseases and drugs appropriate for the Oklahoma City-based biotech company’s molecular delivery system, Caisson Chief Executive Tommy Harlan said.
Novo Nordisk bought the rights to commercialize insulin using the company’s HEPtune process. The list of other pharmaceutical development options, which now includes human growth hormone therapy, obesity treatments and inflammatory diseases, has moved the company closer to its projected payments of $167 million and royalties that could easily top hundreds of millions of dollars, he said.
“After all this time, we’re reaching the point of returning investment to investors,” he said. “It’s really, really, really looking good.”
Organization of the company and its funding has been key to investor response, he said.
“We have structured our companies as LLCs and our funds as limited partnerships, so when we make a distribution to Caisson investors, we don’t have pay corporate tax,” he said. “It’s a creative way – and something that’s being used more and more in venture capital – to return investment.”
The payoff comes after more than a decade of research, headed by Caisson’s chief scientist, Paul DeAngelis. The HEPtune polymer was developed from sugar enzymes that occur naturally in the human body, which reduces the likelihood of rejection by some patients.
DeAngelis said the company couldn’t have moved forward as quickly as it did without funding and management by Austin, Texas-based Emergent Technologies Inc. Emergent has helped several University of Oklahoma medical research groups with venture capital as well. Harlan is also founder and president of Emergent.