It's been a long time coming, but it's beginning to look as if oral delivery of proteins will be technically feasible. The latest indicator is a $60 million deal by Eli Lilly and Co. to license Emisphere Technologies Inc.'s delivery technology, with a major focus in endocrinology, including growth disorders.

"The issues in oral delivery of proteins have been whether you can deliver proteins intact and at meaningful levels," said Michael Goldberg, chairman and CEO of EMIS (Hawthorne, N.Y.). "By signing on and allocating these kinds of resources after testing our technology in their own primates, Lilly is providing a very important confirmation that you can't ignore oral delivery of proteins. They found they can achieve the efficiency they look for in an oral product and that the protein