According to terms of the agreement, Eli Lilly will pay $110m (€93m) for AurKa Pharma and its early-phase candidate AK-01.
AK-01 is designed to inhibit Aurora kinase A, which is frequently overexpressed in cancerous tumours. The compound was originally designed by Lilly, before the Indianapolis-headquartered drugmaker sold it to AurKa Pharma's parent company TVM Capital Life Science in 2016.
As part of the deal, Lilly could pay AurKa Pharma shareholders up to $465m in regulatory and sales milestones.
“The acquisition of AurKa pharma expands our pipeline with a promising oncology compound targeting a distinct cell cycle pathway,” said Lilly Oncology’s Levi Garraway in a statement.
“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,” he added.
The acquisition marks Lilly’s second oncology buy in the past week, following the purchase of Armo Biosciences and its lead asset pegilodecakin for $1.6bn. The therapy is in a Phase III pancreatic cancer clinical trial.
Other significant cancer-focused M&A this year includes Celgene’s acquisition of T-cell technology partner Juno in January, French firm Servier’s acquisition of Shire’s cancer business in April, and Janssen’s purchase of immunotherapy-focused BeneVir earlier this month.
Eli Lilly did not respond to a request for comment before the time of publishing.