Lilly bets $8bn on genomic approach to cancer

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Rost-9D)
(Image: Getty/Rost-9D)

Related tags Eli lilly Loxo Oncology Innovent Biologics

Eli Lilly will acquire Loxo for $8bn to gain access to treatments that target cancers dependent on single gene abnormalities.

Loxo Oncology, a biotech headquartered in Connecticut, US, already has one treatment approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, Vitrakvi (larotrectinib).

Vitrakvi is a first-in-class oral TRK inhibitor, which is specifically approved for patients with neurotrophic receptor tyrosine kinase gene fusion.

Eli Lilly will acquire this asset as part of the $8bn (€6.9bn) deal, which also sees the pharma giant pick up three further drug candidates in LOXO-292, LOXO-305, and LOXO-195.

These drug candidates are potential treatments for patients who carry single gene abnormalities, which may cause mutations or fusions that can lead to the development of cancer.

Loxo’s only approved treatment, Vitrakvi has shown significant efficacy in clinical trials – of patients treated, there was an overall response rate of 75% and a complete response rate of 22%.

Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s chief scientific officer, said: “Loxo Oncology’s portfolio of RET, BTK and TRK inhibitors targeted specifically to patients with mutations or fusions in these genes, in combination with advanced diagnostics that allow us to know exactly which patients may benefit, creates new opportunities to improve the lives of people with advanced cancer.”

According to a statement by Lilly, the deal is expected to complete by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

As part of the reasoning behind the deal, Lilly suggested that the move is part of “a series of transactions [it] has conducted to broaden its cancer treatment efforts with externally sourced opportunities for first-in-class and best-in-class therapies.”

One such deal was the company’s partnership with Innovent in China, which recently bore fruit with the approval of an anti-PD-1 drug​. As well as a $1.6bn deal for Arno BioSciences​ and another deal to acquire AurKa Pharma for its lead oncology candidate​ last year.

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