2024-05-22| Partnerships

Eli Lilly and Aktis Oncology Partner to Advance Novel Radiopharmaceuticals

by Richard Chau
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On May 21, Eli Lilly and Company announced a multi-target drug discovery collaboration with Aktis Oncology, a biotech company specializing in novel targeted radiopharmaceuticals for solid tumors. The partnership, which may be worth up to $1.16 billion, aims to harness Aktis’ innovative miniprotein technology platform in conjunction with Lilly’s extensive oncology expertise and commercialization prowess. Together, they seek to develop first-in-class and differentiated radiopharmaceutical therapeutics targeting a variety of solid tumors.

Related article: Eli Lilly Expands Oncology Portfolio with $1.4 Billion Acquisition of POINT Biopharma 

Aktis’ Innovation and Financial Details of the Deal

Aktis Oncology is at the forefront of developing targeted alpha radiopharmaceuticals designed to treat a wide range of solid tumors. Founded by MPM Capital, Aktis has created platforms to generate tumor-targeting agents optimized for alpha radiotherapy, which employs radioactive isotopes that undergo alpha decay to treat diseased tissue at close proximity.

The lead program of Aktis Oncology targets Nectin-4, a tumor-associated antigen prevalent in urothelial cancer and other solid tumors. Their unique platform combines miniproteins, a diverse group of protein scaffolds characterized by small size (1–10 kDa). with α-emitting radionuclides, generating tumor-targeting agents optimized for alpha radiotherapy. This innovative approach ensures high tumor penetration and long residence time, enabling rapid clearance from non-targeted areas to maximize tumor elimination while minimizing damage to healthy tissues. Besides, this approach allows clinicians to visualize and verify target engagement before therapeutic exposure, enhancing treatment precision, effectiveness and safety.

As part of the agreement, Eli Lilly will make an upfront cash payment of $60 million to Aktis Oncology and also invest in the company through an equity purchase. Furthermore, Aktis stands to gain up to an additional $1.1 billion in potential milestones related to preclinical, clinical, regulatory, and commercial achievements, along with tiered royalties on future product sales. As an exchange, Eli Lilly will acquire worldwide rights to develop and commercialize radiopharmaceutical therapeutic and diagnostic products based on oncology targets selected by Lilly. 

Leadership Perspectives on the Partnership

Matthew Roden, Ph.D., President and CEO of Aktis Oncology, highlighted the significance of this partnership, emphasizing the potential of Aktis’ unique miniprotein radiopharmaceutical platform to address novel cancer targets while ensuring a safe and effective clinical profile. Jacob Van Naarden, President of Lilly Oncology, echoed this sentiment, noting that the collaboration builds on Lilly’s growing radiopharmaceutical capabilities and provides access to innovative technologies that promise to deliver novel and differentiated radiopharmaceuticals for cancer patients.

Hot Competition in the Global Radiopharmaceuticals Market

Radiopharmaceuticals have garnered much attention in the global oncology market in recent days. A report by Precedence Research indicates that the global radiopharmaceuticals market size surpassed $ 5.2 billion in 2022 and is projected to hit around $13.67 billion by 2032, registering a CAGR of 10.2% from 2023 to 2032.

Over the past few months, a series of billion-dollar deals have been announced (see the table below), with pharmaceutical giants seeking to differentiate themselves in this huge market by expanding their product lines through drug development partnerships or acquiring smaller biotech companies. Eli Lilly, for example, acquired POINT Biopharma in October 2023 for $1.4 billion, while other notable players in the race include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, AstraZeneca, and Genentech.

A summary of selected major deals in the field of radiopharmaceuticals in 2023 and 2024. (As of May 22, 2024; Source: Press releases from various pharma companies, compiled by the GeneOnline team)


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