Building on successful PD-1 pact, Eli Lilly licenses diabetes drug to Chinese partners at Innovent
Eli Lilly is expanding its partnership with China’s Innovent in a deal involving a diabetes drug sitting in its Phase I reserves.
The two companies had jointly developed one of China’s first homegrown PD-1 agents, scoring an approval for Tyvyt (sintilimab) late last year for relapsed/refractory classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This time around, Lilly is out-licensing a piece of its diabetes pipeline, a leading franchise that has historically produced the top-selling Trulicity and Humalog.
But the Indianapolis-based drugmaker also has a complicated history with the drug class in question.
The oxyntomodulin analog known as OXM3 is a dual GLP-1 and glucagon receptor agonist designed for once-weekly injection. Early-stage trials have shown potential for potent weight loss and improved glycemic control, according to Innovent.
On the surface, the profile is similar to that of TT401, an experimental drug from Transition Therapeutics that Lilly initially partnered on but eventually spurned in 2016. After reviewing Phase II data, Lilly had decided the advantages in lowering HbA1c were not significant enough to warrant a Phase III.
“Despite the availability of various OXM peptides and analogues thereof, there is still a need for more potent, stable, long-acting, and well-tolerated OXM peptide analogues having a ratio of GcgR/GLP-1R activity which has been optimized such that the potency and insulinotropic activity of the peptide provides effective treatments for diabetes, preferably type 2 diabetes and related disorders,” read Lilly’s patent application for an OXM analog.
We don’t know much about the compound that Innovent is introducing to China, except that it is deemed “potential best-in-class” and will be ushered into mid-stage studies. There’s also mention of application in NASH.
The licensing deal also marks Innovent’s first foray into the diabetes field. While it lists autoimmune as one of four research areas, the company has so far focused on rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus and asthma.
“China has a greater number of diabetic patients than any other country in the world with around 114 million people suffering from the disease,” CEO Michael Yu noted in a statement.