Eli Lilly to collaborate with BioNTech on novel cancer immunotherapies

Makes upfront payment of US$30m, with potential for more than $300m in milestones

Eli Lilly will pay US$30m to collaborate with BioNTech, a privately held German immunotherapy company, to discover novel cancer immunotherapies. The companies will use the body's immune system to attack cancer cells and create possible new treatments for cancer patients.

Mainz-based BioNTech could also potentially receive more than $300m in development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments.

If novel tumour targets and their corresponding T cell receptors (TCRs) in one or more types of cancer are developed into cancer therapies, BioNTech would also be eligible for double-digit tiered royalty payments.

In addition, Lilly will make a $30m equity investment in BioNTech’s subsidiary, Cell & Gene Therapies, which specialises in the research and development of TCR and chimeric antigen receptor immunotherapeutics.

'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, 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.'

Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, added: 'We are very pleased to collaborate with a leading oncology company such as Lilly. 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.'

Lilly's oncology pipeline 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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