​MorphoSys AG, a leading German biotechnology company, and Novozymes, the world leader in bioinnovation and industrial enzymes, today announced the signing of a licensing agreement for MorphoSys’ patented Slonomics® technology. Using Slonomics as an automated enzyme engineering tool will allow Novozymes’ researchers to reduce the time needed to develop new enzymes.

“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. “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.”

The needle in the haystack
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 the combining of building blocks in exactly the preferred order and composition. Researchers can thus create only the desired diversity among the enzyme variants, eliminating all the undesired combinations. In a typical scenario, Novozymes’ researchers can reduce the number of necessary variants from millions to 10,000.

“We have been delivering high-quality collections of DNA sequences to Novozymes for the past 3 years, and I'm very pleased that we're able to expand our business relationship significantly with this licensing arrangement,” comments Dieter Feger, Senior Vice President at MorphoSys AG.

Research and development the key to business growth
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).

Novozymes becomes the first industrial biotech company to have access to Slonomics technology.
About MorphoSys
MorphoSys developed HuCAL, the most successful antibody library technology in the pharmaceutical industry. By successfully applying this and other patented technologies, MorphoSys has become a leader in the field of therapeutic antibodies, one of the fastest growing drug classes in human healthcare. The Company’s AbD Serotec unit uses HuCAL and other technologies to generate superior monoclonal antibodies for research and diagnostic applications.

Through its own development efforts and successful partnerships in the pharmaceutical industry, MorphoSys has built a therapeutic pipeline of more than 70 human antibody drug candidates for the treatment of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease, to name just a few. With its ongoing commitment to new antibody technology and drug development, MorphoSys is focused on engineering the medicines of tomorrow. MorphoSys is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the symbol MOR. For regular updates about MorphoSys, visit http://www.morphosys.com