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the transport of proteins and other ingredients across membranes, such as those found in the gastrointestinal tract. The companies haven’t predicted how long it will take them to develop a viable product, but if it works, it could be worth as much as $57.5 million to Emisphere.
Entrega: This company, which was formed by Boston-based Enlight Biosciences in January, is working on oral versions of several biologic drugs, including insulin. The startup has remained largely under wraps, but what we do know is that famed MIT inventor Robert Langer is on its advisory board, as are executives from Genentech and Johnson & Johnson.
Alkermes: OK, so this isn’t quite an example of an oral-insulin project that’s still alive, but it’s worth noting anyway. Waltham, MA-based Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS) once had a pact with Eli Lilly to develop inhaled insulin, but that project died in 2008, when Lilly decided to shelve it. Then, in January of this year, Alkermes spinoff Civitas Therapeutics secured $20 million in funding to resurrect Alkermes’s technology for inhaled drugs. But Civitas isn’t going near the insulin market: Instead it’s investigating the technology for use in Parkinson’s disease.
Is Civitas smart to forget about inhaled insulin? Or is non-injected insulin still a dream worth pursuing?
And have I missed any companies that are working on insulin alternatives? I’d like to hear your answers to those questions.
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