Pharma giant Eli Lilly and Company and a German startup have reached a highly-incentivized agreement to collaborate on new cancer treatments arming the body’s immune system to fight tumors, the companies announced.
BioNTech AG, headquartered in Mainz, Germany, will receive a $30 million signing fee – and could receive over $300 million for each potential cancer-fighting medicine it produces, in addition to royalties, according to a joint release by the two companies.
The drugs will be immunotherapies – using genomics to target novel tumors and their corresponding T-cell receptors – and then finding ways to arm the immune system to successfully fight off cancer, they said in a release.
“In the past few years, we’ve seen some amazing breakthroughs in immune-oncology; however, we believe these are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Greg Plowman, the vice-president of Lilly Oncology Research.
“Lilly’s expertise and track record make it an ideal collaborator for both companies to leverage the full power of BioNTech’s functional T-cell receptor technologies to develop novel cancer therapies that harness the immune system,” said Ugur Sahin, the CEO of the German company.
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Certain, specifically targeted cancer drugs which arm the immune system in some patients have shown promise for the concept. Provenge is the market name for a prostate cancer drug that has shown success even in advanced cases. Herceptin is a breast cancer drug that is effective in certain women.
BioNTech was founded in 2008, and is privately held, the majority by the wealthy Strungmann Family Office. The company says it raised the largest initial financing round in the history of European biopharmaceuticals.
Eli Lilly, based in Indianapolis, is among the largest companies of its kind in the world.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery