Peptide expertise

At Zealand, we have 25 years of expertise in the discovery, design and development of peptide-based medicines. We engineer peptide analogs to enhance biological activity, extend duration of action and increase stability with the aim of providing innovative and better treatments for a broad range of diseases.

Validated peptide platform

Since our founding in 1998, we have built a unique peptide platform and design process based on a deep understanding of peptide chemistry, formulation know-how, and intellectual property rights, combined with advanced computer science.

The success of our peptide discovery and development platform has been validated by two approved products marketed by Sanofi and Novo Nordisk, as well as our novel peptide candidates currently advancing in clinical development.

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We use nature’s own inventions

Enhancing the natural property of a peptide or combining activities of two or more peptides into single peptides can present new therapeutic opportunities. We use endogenous human peptides and peptides from animal venoms to develop new therapeutic candidates. We also manipulate bacteria to produce peptide libraries. In other words, we make broad use of nature’s own inventions in an effort to improve human health and quality of life.

We continue to optimize our peptide platform through new technologies and scientific advancements. We also access cutting-edge technology through research collaborations.

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What are peptides?

Peptides are naturally occurring biological molecules composed of amino acids joined together by chemical bonds. Produced by all living organisms, including humans, peptides are found in every cell. Many peptides are hormones that carry information between cells or organs to perform a wide range of essential functions, such as regulating appetite, blood glucose or stimulating tissue growth.

Native peptides have powerful biological functions but many are inherently unstable and short-lived in the bloodstream. To convert native peptides into effective peptide therapeutics, these characteristics must be modified, while maintaining or enhancing the biological activity. This involves changing the amino acid sequence of the peptide, usually by substituting with another amino acid.

Through our deep understanding of peptide chemistry and biology, we focus this substitution process on key amino acids to remove the weak points that result in poor solubility, stability or activity. We have successfully applied this approach to the peptides glucagon, amylin, GLP-1, GLP-2 and GIP to create new drug candidates.

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Why peptides as therapeutics?

As therapeutics, peptides have several advantages over small molecules. Peptides can be very potent molecules that have high specificity to their target. High potency allows for lower dosage volumes and increased specificity generally leads to fewer 'off target' side effects associated with peptide molecules.

Therapeutic peptides have similar advantages over proteins or antibodies. They are also much smaller in size and easier to synthesize.

At Zealand, our R&D programs are focused on high-profile therapeutic targets that are difficult to address with small molecules or antibodies.

I have been building peptides at Zealand Pharma for 25 years. As one of the first links in the value chain, I help to turn our novel ideas into peptides that may one day become a new therapy.

Margit Andersen

Principal Laboratory Technologist in Medicinal and Computational Chemistry

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Zealand’s peptide platform


What are peptides? How does Zealand work with peptides to create potentially life-changing therapies? Watch to learn more about these powerful molecules.

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