Spanish pharmaceutical company Almirall has signed an exclusive licencing agreement to acquire the global rights to Novo Nordisk’s interleukin-21 (IL-21) blocking monoclonal antibody, NN-8828.

NN-8828 is a high-affinity monoclonal antibody that targets the cytokine IL-21.

It has been developed by Novo Nordisk up to Phase 2 in non-dermatological indications.

According to the agreement, Almirall now has the rights to develop and market the monoclonal antibody in certain fields, including immune inflammatory dermatological diseases.

Almirall will assume responsibility for the asset’s worldwide development and future commercialisation in these indications.

This is expected to expedite the asset’s development to address key dermatological conditions.

In addition to an upfront payment, Novo Nordisk will also get tiered royalties depending on future worldwide sales as well as incremental development and commercial milestone payments.

Almirall chief scientific officer Karl Ziegelbauer said: “At Almirall, we are dedicated to developing the best possible treatments for patients suffering from skin diseases.

“This new partnership builds on our innovation strategy and will allow us to explore the innovative approach of IL-21 blockage as a possible new pathway to effectively treat a range of dermatological diseases.”

NN-8828 can prevent IL-21 from activating its downstream signalling pathways and reduce the pathogenic effects that this cytokine causes in a variety of immune cells, according to the Spanish drug maker.

Almirall said that the monoclonal antibody is a viable therapy option for inflammatory and autoimmune skin illnesses because of its mechanism.

Headquartered in Barcelona and founded in 1944, Almirall is publicly traded on the Spanish Stock Exchange and has a presence in 21 countries.

Recently, the company forged a three-year partnership with technology giant Microsoft to advance the development of medical solutions for dermatological diseases.