Eli Lilly has revealed its agreement to acquire AurKa Pharma, Inc. Established by TVM Capital Life Science, the company has developed oncology compound AK-01, an Aurora kinase A inhibitor that was, interestingly, originally discovered at Lilly. The deal is set to be worth up to $575mn, CNBC has reported.
The compound is a potential first-in-class asset that AurKa Pharma is studying in Phase 1 clinical trials in multiple types of solid tumours.
Eli Lilly originally sold the compound to TVM Capital Life Science in 2016, where the company then established AurKa as part of its TVM Life Science Ventures VII fund. The fund is a novel investment model that seeks to develop early-stage pharmaceutical assets in a capital-efficient manner.
"The acquisition of AurKa Pharma supports Lilly's external innovation strategy, in which we seek to partner with leading life science venture capital firms in order to identify, support and access promising innovation in areas of unmet medical need," commented Darren Carroll, Senior Vice President of Corporate Business Development at Eli Lilly.
"The acquisition of AurKa Pharma expands our pipeline with a promising oncology compound targeting a distinct cell cycle pathway. The work done by AurKa will allow Lilly to leverage emerging data about cancers in which this molecule might be effective and determine if it can be beneficial to people living with various forms of cancer," noted Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Global Development and Medical Affairs, Lilly Oncology.
"Through the unique healthcare venture capital model pioneered by TVM Capital Life Science, companies such as AurKa have been established to more quickly and efficiently bring promising compounds to clinical proof-of-concept," said Luc Marengere, Ph.D., Managing Partner at TVM Capital Life Science.
Under the terms of the agreement, Lilly will acquire all shares of AurKa Pharma. In return, AurKa Pharma shareholders will receive an upfront payment of $110mn. AurKa Pharma shareholders are also eligible to receive up to $465mn in regulatory and sales milestones should AK-01 gain approval in the US and other markets and achieve certain sales levels.