Lilly to bolster immuno-oncology program with Armo BioSciences purchase

By Brittany Farb Gruber

- Last updated on GMT

In a move aimed to bolster its immuno-oncology program, Eli Lilly and Company has acquired Armo BioSciences for $50 per share, or approximately $1.6bn.

Armo BioSciences is a late-stage immuno-oncology company that is currently developing a pipeline of proprietary product candidates that are designed to activate the immune system of cancer patients to recognize as well as destroy tumors.

Armo BioSciences’ lead product candidate, pegilodecakin, has demonstrated a clinical benefit as a single agent.

In combination with both chemotherapy and checkpoint inhibitor therapy, across several tumor types. Pegilodecakin is currently being studied in a phase III clinical trial in pancreatic cancer, as well as earlier-phase trials in lung and renal cell cancer, melanoma and other solid tumor types.

“As we develop our immuno-oncology portfolio, Lilly will pursue medicines that use the body's immune system in new ways to treat cancer,” ​said Levi Garraway, senior vice president of global development and medical affairs at Lilly Oncology. “We believe that pegilodecakin has a unique immunologic mechanism of action that could eventually allow physicians to offer new hope for many cancer patients.”

"Given the resources that Lilly, a leader in oncology R&D, can bring to bear to maximize the value of pegilodecakin and the rest of the Armo pipeline, we believe it is in the best interest of Armo, our stockholders and the patients we serve, to execute this transaction,”​ added Peter Van Vlasselaer, CEO of Armo BioSciences.

Industry reaction

In a written statement, Bill Williams, president and CEO of BriaCell Therapeutics, applauded Eli Lilly for making significant investment in immuno-oncology by acquiring Armo BioSciences and their lead asset pegilodecakin.

“These therapies hold tremendous promise for patients, providing effective treatments with a much better safety profile than chemotherapies,”​ he stated, adding that BriaCell’s proprietary targeted immunotherapies, which combine cytokine stimulation with targeted immunotherapies, are also showing great promise.

“We look forward to continuing discussions with several pharma companies to determine how best to combine our Bria-IMT and Bria-OTS with these other promising immunotherapies,” ​Williams said.

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2018.

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