Could Eli Lilly and Precision BioSciences Make Breakthroughs for DMD?
Eli Lilly and Company and Precision BioSciences, Inc. announced today that they have entered a research collaboration and exclusive license agreement to use Precision’s ARCUS genome editing platform to research and develop potential in vivo therapies for a series of genetic disorders. Specifically, the companies will be focusing on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), along with two other undisclosed gene targets. ARCUS will give them the opportunity to make a variety of efficient edits, enabling a range of therapeutic editing.
“Gene-edited therapies are emerging as a promising approach to help patients afflicted with genetic conditions,” said Ruth Gimeno, Ph.D., vice president of diabetes and metabolic research at Lilly. “We look forward to working closely with Precision’s scientific team and leveraging their platform to develop and deliver breakthrough medicines for untreated genetic disorders.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Precision BioSciences will receive a cash payment of $100 million. It will also have an equity investment by Lilly of $35 million in Precision’s common stock. Ultimately, Precision will be eligible to receive up to $420 million in potential development and commercialization milestones per product.
“We look forward to working with Lilly to leverage our deep understanding of in vivo gene editing and experience with ARCUS to develop new therapies, including a potentially transformative treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” said Derek Jantz, chief scientific officer and co-founder of Precision BioSciences. “Collaborating with Lilly, a global healthcare leader with strong clinical and commercial experience in difficult-to-treat diseases, will help us accelerate our work aimed to solve genetic diseases with unique editing challenges.”
This is just one of the research collaboration and licensing agreements that Lilly has entered this year. Back in March, the company announced that it had entered a similar deal with Sitryx, the biopharmaceutical company focused on regulating cell metabolism to develop disease-modifying therapeutics.
“We are excited to partner with Lilly, one of the global leaders in the field of immunology, to pursue the discovery of novel targets and the development of innovative therapies for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in the fast-emerging area of immunometabolism,” said Neil Weir, Ph.D.,chief executive officer of Sitryx, at the time of the announcement. “This agreement is transformational for Sitryx and further validates the strength of our scientific expertise and that of our Founder network and the potential for Sitryx to become a leader in this field.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Sitryx was set to receive an upfront payment of $50 million. Lilly was primed to make a $10 million equity investment in Sitryx, and Sitryx was eligible to receive up to an additional $820 million for reaching development milestones. Together, the companies were dedicated to creating a five-year research collaboration to support the development of therapeutics.
“As Lilly seeks to develop new and unique medicines for people suffering with autoimmune diseases, we are actively exploring a variety of scientific approaches both in our own labs and with external partners,” said Ajay Nirula, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of immunology at Lilly, at the time of the announcement. “Regulating the metabolism of immune cells is a promising approach to treating these diseases, and we look forward to working with the talented researchers at Sitryx to advance their novel immunometabolism targets.”
Lilly continues to be a global healthcare leader, committed to creating high-quality medicine to meet needs around the world. The company was founded more than a century ago.