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Lilly adds AurKa Pharma to oncology buying spree

Lilly is buying back its former drug after just two years

Eli Lilly

Just days after having unveiled its $1.6bn acquisition of Armo Biosciences, Lilly has made another purchase to bolster its oncology pipeline.

Yesterday it announced it would pay $110 million upfront for the Montreal-based AurKa Pharma, with up to $465 million more in regulatory and sales milestones should its lead candidate AK-01 gain approval.

The interesting twist is that AK-O1, an Aurora kinase A inhibitor, was originally discovered by Lilly, but offloaded in 2016 as part of a pipeline review.

Now the company’s new R&D chief Lee Garraway see the potential first-in-class asset as an opportunity for Lilly to get ahead in oncology.

AurKa Pharma is currently studying the drug in Phase 1 clinical trials in multiple types of solid tumours. Aurora kinases, consisting of Aurora A, Aurora B and Aurora C, are key mitotic regulators required for genome stability and are frequently overexpressed in cancerous tumours.

Lilly sold the compound to TVM Capital Life Science, which then established AurKa as part of a life sciences venture fund, aimed at creating a lean and accelerated development path to market.

"Lilly Oncology is focused on the development of innovative cancer therapies that can make a meaningful difference for patients," said Levi Garraway, senior vice president, global development and medical affairs, Lilly Oncology.

"The acquisition of AurKa Pharma expands our pipeline with a promising oncology compound targeting a distinct cell cycle pathway. The work done by AurKa will allow Lilly to leverage emerging data about cancers in which this molecule might be effective,and determine if it can be beneficial to people living with various forms of cancer."

"Through the unique healthcare venture capital model pioneered by TVM Capital Life Science, companies such as AurKa have been established to more quickly and efficiently bring promising compounds to clinical proof-of-concept," said Luc Marengere,  Managing Partner at TVM Capital Life Science.

"We are pleased that the scientific advances made by AurKa could contribute to the development of AK-01 and hopefully help deliver a potential new medicine for cancer patients."

14th May 2018

From: Marketing

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