rare disease day 2022

Lilly planning $700m genetic medicine development center

By Jenni Spinner contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Andrew Brookes/iStock via Getty Images Plus)
(Andrew Brookes/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

Related tags: Genetic testing, Genetics, Rare disease, preclinical development, Eli lilly and company

The pharmaceutical company’s Lilly Institute for Genetic Medicine reportedly will focus on developing RNA-based therapeutics in a ‘state-of-the-art’ facility.

Eli Lilly and Company has announced plans to construct the Lilly Institute for Genetic Medicine, investing $700m USD in the establishment of the facility in the Boston Seaport Area. The investment (reportedly part of its strategy to advance RNA-based therapeutics) comes on the heels of its 2020 acquisition and expansion of gene-therapy company Prevail Therapeutics.

According to Lilly representatives, researchers in both Boston and New York City will explore promising RNA- and DNA-based technologies to develop therapies with the capability to treat or prevent diseases that traditional approaches cannot. Outsourcing-Pharma spoke with a Lilly spokesperson, who said that researchers will tackle the discovery and development of novel treatments for a number of therapeutic areas.

“Lilly plans to focus on areas where we have deep biological expertise, including neuroscience, immunology, and diabetes​,” they told OSP. “This expansion will fuel the continued development of medicines acting at the nucleic acid level to target the root cause of diseases, an approach that is not possible with traditional medicines available today​.”

"The institute will enhance our efforts on neurodegenerative diseases and integrate Lilly's genetic medicine research and platforms with the goal of advancing promising and potentially life-altering new medicines from the lab to clinical studies and ultimately to patients​," said Franz Hefti, CEO of Prevail Therapeutics at Lilly and co-director of the institute. "We look forward to working with hundreds of scientists and researchers who share a common goal—to create and develop innovative genetic medicines that make life better for people around the world​."

The representative added that the location appealed because of the recent boom in biotech in Boston, specifically in genetic medicine: “Lilly is excited by the diversity among the scientific community in the Boston region; we believe diversity serves as a catalyst for innovation and creativity, and that by leveraging the varied backgrounds of our employees we can better deliver scientific breakthroughs.”

Andrew Adams, vice president of genetic medicine at Lilly and co-director of the institute, said, “Lilly will focus on medicines acting at the nucleic acid level to advance an entirely new class that target the root cause of diseases, an approach that is fundamentally different than medicines available today​."

The spokesperson added that after the center’s opening (projected to happen in 2024), staff at the site will grow from an initial 120 to more than 250 workers, including research biologists, chemists, data scientists, and other experts in genetic medicine. At the same time, they expect the number of Lilly employees to reach up to 200 scientists.

The Institute will be headquartered in 334,000 square feet of leased space in a 12-story building, developed and operated by Alexandria Real Estate Equities. The site will also include a shared space – modeled after Lilly Gateway Labs in San Francisco – to support biotech start-ups in the Boston area. This space will provide dedicated and configurable lab and office space, access to Lilly scientists, and opportunities for collaboration.

Rare and genetic diseases took center stage at Outsourcing-Pharma’s recent Rare and Orphan Diseases webinar. To hear from the three industry expert presenters, register to view the webinar on-demand here​.

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