Lilly and Sitryx Sign $880 Million+ 5-Year Development Deal


Eli Lilly and Oxford, England-based Sitryx entered an exclusive global licensing and research collaboration. The two companies will work to develop up to four preclinical compounds discovered by Sitryx for autoimmune diseases.

Under the terms of the deal, Lilly is paying Sitryx $50 million up front. Lilly will also make a $10 million equity investment in the company. Sitryx will be eligible for development milestones up to $820 million, in addition to commercialization milestones and royalty payments in the mid- to high-single digits.

Sitryx grants Lilly exclusive, worldwide license to develop and commercialize up to four immunometabolism targeted compounds, including Sitryx’s two lead projects. The partnership will run for five years, with Sitryx taking on drug discovery and Lilly paying for and handling clinical development and commercialization.

“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, vice president of immunology at Lilly. “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.”

Sitryx was founded in 2018 with seed funding from SV Health Investors and by six researchers in immunology and immuno-regulation: Houman Ashrafian (SV Health Investors), Luke O’Neill (Trinity College Dublin), Jonathan Powell (Johns Hopkins), Jeff Rathmell (Vanderbilt University), Michael Rosenblum (University of California San Francisco) and Paul Peter Tak (formerly chief immunology officer, global development leader and senior vice president R&D Pipeline at GlaxoSmithKline; Amsterdam University Medical Centre). It raised $30 million in Series A funding from SV Health Investors, Sofinnova Partners, Longwood Fund and GlaxoSmithKline in 2018.

The scientific focus of the company is regulating cell metabolism to treat diseases.

“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, chief executive officer of Sitryx. “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.”

Yesterday, Lilly announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved its supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) for Taltz (ixekizumab) for the treatment of children ages six to 18 with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy. The application was based on a Phase III trial of 171 patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. The trial had co-primary endpoints, including the proportion of patients hitting a 75% improvement on their Psoriasis Area and Severity Index Score (PASI 75) and a static Physician’s Global Assessment of clear or almost clear skin at Week 12.

“Due to limited pediatric psoriasis treatment options available, treating children and adolescents with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis can be challenging,” said Stacie Bell, chief scientific and medical officer, National Psoriasis Foundation. “Having more FDA approved pediatric psoriasis treatment options available is a positive step forward in helping relieve the burden of psoriasis for pediatric patients, their families and the health care providers that treat these young patients.”


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