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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Lilly’s $960M deal in immunological and neurodegenerative diseases

Health Industry Hub | February 22, 2021 |

Pharma News: Eli Lilly and Rigel Pharmaceuticals announced a global exclusive license agreement and strategic collaboration to co-develop and commercialise a receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) inhibitor, for all indications including autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Pursuant to the collaboration, Lilly will also lead all clinical development of brain penetrating RIPK1 inhibitors in central nervous system (CNS) diseases.

Rigel’s lead RIPK1 inhibitor, R552, will begin Phase 2 clinical trials in 2021 as part of the collaboration. Rigel also has ongoing pre-clinical activities with its lead CNS penetrant RIPK1 inhibitor candidates.

“At Lilly, our immunology strategy is focused on the pursuit of novel targets that have the potential to develop into best-in-class medicines for patients with autoimmune conditions,” said Ajay Nirula, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of immunology at Lilly. “RIPK1 inhibitors are a promising approach, and R552 is an exciting addition to our immunology pipeline. We look forward to working with Rigel to advance its clinical development.”

“We are very excited to form this strategic partnership with Lilly. This collaboration will provide significant resources and expertise to support a broad investigation in multiple disease indications with our RIPK1 inhibitors,” said Raul Rodriguez, Rigel’s president and CEO. “With Lilly’s extensive knowledge in immune and CNS diseases, they are our ideal partner to ensure the clinical and commercial success of our RIPK1 inhibitor program.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Lilly will pay an upfront cash payment to Rigel of $125 million. Rigel may also be eligible to receive up to $835 million in potential development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments.

Last year, Sanofi and Denali dropped their lead RIPK1 candidate SAR 443060 on toxicity issues that forced them to go back and focus on a follow-up compound.

In 2019, GlaxoSmithKline abandoned a RIPK1 drug it had been hoping to pair with checkpoint inhibitors in oncology, GSK3145095, after it failed a pancreatic cancer study.

GSK’s other clinical-stage RIPK1 inhibitor GSK2982772, aimed at inflammatory diseases, is listed as being in phase 1 for psoriasis in the company’s latest pipeline update.

Another organisation with an RIPK1 inhibitor nearing clinical development is Australia’s GenFleet Therapeutics, which is due to start phase 1 trials of its GFH312 candidate in March 2021.


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