GlaxoSmithKline, which operates a huge drug manufacturing facility in Zebulon, is investing as much as $25 million to license a technology platform from a California firm as part of efforts to develop new drugs while also driving down manufacturing costs and improving sustainability. 

But GSK isn’t bringing the platform to N.C., at least initially.

In a deal announced Monday, GSK (NYSE: GSK) and Redwood, Calif.-based Codexis (Nasdaq: CDXS) announced the licensing deal for “CodeEvolver,” a protein engineering technology. 

It includes a $6 million upfront payment and milestone payments of as much as $19 million.

Another $38.5 million could also be earned by Codexis based on what the companies described as “GSK’s successful application” of the technology plus royalties from products developed using the Codexis platform.

The deal is the first time Codexis has granted a technology license.

GSK plans to work with the Codexis technology at its facility in Upper Merion, Pa., which is focused on research and development.  

The companies believe the platform not only can be used for new drug development but also to reduce manufacturing costs and improve efficiency through the use of biocatalysts rather than traditional manufacturing that produces toxic wastes. Energy costs also could be reduced. 

“We look forward to our collaboration with Codexis and deploying their protein engineering technology at GSK,” said John Baldoni, senior vice president for Platform Technology and Science at GSK. “Our goal is to manufacture small molecules more efficiently and sustainably and this platform will assist us to do that.”

Buswell told the website FirecePharma that enzymes developed at the R&D facility can be manufactured by GSK or “sourced and then shipped” to production facilities. 

John Nicols, CEO of Codexis, added in a statement: “We are very pleased that GSK has selected our CodeEvolver platform technology to support innovation and reduce costs in its manufacturing and product development organizations. We look forward to replicating this new technology licensing model with other potential partners and expanding the network of innovative companies that may select our CodeEvolver technology to accelerate their in- house protein engineering capabilities.”