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Eli Lilly, BioNTech form immune system research collaboration

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Eli Lilly and Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech), a Germany-based immunotherapy company, have entered into a research collaboration to discover novel cancer immunotherapies. The companies will seek to use the power of the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells and create possible new treatment options for cancer patients.

Eli Lilly and BioNTech will collaborate to identify and validate novel tumor targets and their corresponding T cell receptors (TCRs) in one or more types of cancer. These tumor targets and TCRs may then be engineered and developed into potent and selective cancer therapies.

BioNTech will receive a $30 million signing fee. For each potential medicine, BioNTech could receive over $300 million in development, regulatory and commercial milestones. If successfully commercialized, BioNTech also would be eligible for tiered royalty payments up to double-digits. Eli Lilly will make a $30 million equity investment in BioNTech’s subsidiary, Cell & Gene Therapies, which specializes in the R&D of TCR and chimeric antigen receptor immunotherapeutics. Further financial terms have not been disclosed.

“In the past few years, we’ve seen some amazing breakthroughs in immuno-oncology; however, we believe these are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Greg Plowman, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of Lilly Oncology Research. “Lilly’s partnership with BioNTech represents the next wave of cancer immunotherapy and is focused on the identification of functional T cell receptors that can be used to redirect a patient’s natural immune system to fight cancer.”

Eli Lilly has an oncology pipeline that includes both small molecules and monoclonal antibodies, which are being studied to treat a wide range of cancers including breast, colorectal, liver and non-small cell lung.

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