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Lilly and Kumquat Biosciences link up in $2bn-plus immuno-oncology deal

The deal will see Kumquat utilise its small molecule immune-oncology platform to discover novel clinical assets

Eli Lilly – through its Loxo Oncology R&D development group – has signed an exclusive collaboration agreement with Kumquat Biosciences to develop novel small molecules that stimulate tumour-specific responses.

The $2bn-plus deal will see Kumquat utilise its small molecule immune-oncology platform to discover novel clinical assets, with Lilly gaining the option to select an undisclosed number of drug candidates for further development and commercialisation.

Little is known about Kumquat’s platform, although the company says its mission is ‘to develop innovative therapies to bring about sustainable and life-changing benefits to cancer patients’.

The company was launched in 2019, having raised over $100m from investors including OrbiMed, Lilly Asia Ventures and Roche Venture Fund.

While Lilly will have the option to develop and commercialise the drug candidates worldwide, Kumquat has retained rights in Greater China for each asset Lilly selects, subject to Lilly’s option to co-commercialise in this location.

Kumquat also has the option to co-develop and co-commercialise a ‘certain number’ of the drug candidates selected by Lilly in the US.

“We are very excited to enter into this collaboration with Lilly," said Yi Liu, chief executive officer of Kumquat.

"Kumquat is developing a novel small molecule IO platform and this collaboration with Lilly is expected to greatly expedite the development of this platform and maximise its full potential. We look forward to working with Lilly to identify the next generation IO drugs that will benefit a broad population of patients,” he added.

Under the terms of the agreement, Kumquat will receive an upfront cash payment and an equity investment totalling $70m.

Kumquat is also eligible to receive over $2bn in potential milestone payments, upon achievement of preclinical, development and future commercial milestones, as well as royalties on sales of commercialised products from the collaboration.

"Using small molecule inhibitors to target specific tumour antigens in complex with the immune machinery presents a unique opportunity to stimulate an enhanced tumour-specific immune response," said Jacob Van Naarden, chief executive officer of Loxo Oncology at Lilly.

"We look forward to working with the accomplished Kumquat team to identify candidate medicines that interact with this target class,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

30th July 2021

From: Research, Sales

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