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MorphoSys and Novozymes Sign Long-Term Alliance on Slonomics® Technology

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MorphoSys AG and Novozymes A/S have announced the signing of a multi-year licensing and technology transfer agreement.

The agreement provides Novozymes with a non-exclusive license to use MorphoSys's proprietary Slonomics technology to develop novel products within the industrial biotechnology sector.

Novozymes becomes the first industrial biotech company to have access to Slonomics technology. Financial details were not disclosed.

"In order to develop the best enzymes in the most efficient way we need access to the best available technologies," says Ejner Bech Jensen, Vice President of Novozymes Research & Development.

Jensen continued, "The Slonomics toolbox will enable a reduction in our discovery times. This means we can bring new innovation to the market faster and we can take on more development projects."

In the search for enzymes with a specific action - for example a laundry detergent enzyme that can remove fruit stains - Novozymes' researchers create multiple variants of an enzyme in order to find the one with the best properties.

The variants are produced by making minor changes to the string of amino acids, which are the enzyme's building blocks. This is followed by a screening procedure to identify the best enzyme candidate.

Due to technical drawbacks with standard technologies, researchers cannot currently combine amino acids exactly as they want without also producing millions of additional undesired enzyme variants.

All variants then have to be screened in a task similar to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Slonomics technology, which comprises patented methods and know-how, advanced materials and robotic equipment, allows combination of building blocks in exactly the preferred order and composition.

Researchers can thus create only the desired diversity among a set of enzyme variants, eliminating all the undesired combinations.

In a typical scenario, Novozymes' researchers can reduce the number of variants made from millions to ten thousand.

Sole access to Slonomics was secured by MorphoSys via its October, 2010 acquisition of Sloning BioTechnology GmbH, a leading supplier of synthetic biology tools.

"Sloning has been delivering combinatorial libraries to Novozymes for the past three years and I am very pleased that we are able to expand our business relationship significantly with this licensing arrangement," comments Dieter Feger, Senior Vice President and Head of AbD Serotec.

Feger continued, "There is strong interest in this technology, which can be applied in many different ways within the industrial biotechnology industry."

Continuous innovation is fundamental to Novozymes' business. The company spends roughly 14% of its revenue on research and development and launches 6-8 new products each year.

Historically, 25-30% of the company's sales have stemmed from products developed within the past 5 years. In 2010, Novozymes reported sales of DKK 9.7 billion (USD 1.8 billion).