Eli Lilly highlights key R&D catalysts for 2018; Vernalis and Daiichi Sankyo work together on cancer targets

→ Eli Lilly has a few key R&D catalysts built in to its 2018 forecast, out today. Holding the line on an R&D budget that runs just north of the $5 billion mark, Lilly says they expect a regulatory decision on baricitinib for rheumatoid arthritis — after the FDA walked back a requirement on a new study — as well as the CGRP drug galcanezumab and a shot at a new indication for psoriatic arthritis for Taltz.

→ UK-based Vernalis has inked a deal with pharma giant Daiichi Sankyo that aims to find new targets for potential cancer therapies. The companies did not disclose financial details of the deal. Vernalis’ platform is designed to find molecules with low molecular weights that interact with the binding site of the target. Finding these fragments gives drug makers a starting point to develop ligands and drugs. Several pharmaceutical companies have already partnered with Vernalis on the platform, including Servier, Lundbeck, and Genentech. The partnership comes at the end of a rough year for Vernalis, as the FDA rejected its cold remedy CCP-07 and CCP-08 in April and August.

→ Expanding its arsenal for developing RNA-targeted small molecules, ambitious Arrakis Therapeutics has grabbed rights to a new technology developed by David Chenoweth of the University of Pennsylvania. Chenoweth is a member of the scientific board of the Waltham, MA-based biotech, which now has an exclusive license to access the intellectual property. The potential drug candidates are designed to selectively bind a kind of nucleic acid structure present in folded RNA called three-way junctions. This collaboration marks an academic turn for the preclinical startup, led by a team of biotech vets and serial entrepreneur Michael Gilman.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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