Eli Lilly puts up $100M in RNAi deal with Dicerna
- Eli Lilly will tap Dicerna Pharmaceuticals and its RNA interference technology in a collaboration deal aimed at finding new treatments for cardio-metabolic disease, neurodegeneration and pain, the companies said in a statement Monday.
- Per the deal, Lilly will pay Dicerna $100 million upfront as well as invest another $100 million in Dicerna stock, receiving in return access to Dicerna's RNAi work and GalXC platform. Milestone payments would trigger hundreds of millions more in payouts from Lilly to Dicerna.
- While shares in Lilly rose more than 2% after trading opened Monday morning, the smaller Dicerna saw its stock jump as much as 22% on the news.
The deal with Lilly marks Dicerna's second agreement with a pharma partner in as many weeks now, evidence of the biotech's partnering strategy for its RNAi platform.
Last week, Alexion Pharmaceuticals agreed to pay $22 million upfront and invest $15 million in equity — plus up to $600 million in milestone payments — in exchange for access to two RNAi candidates that use GalXC.
With Lilly, Dicerna stands to gain a lot if its GalXC platform can help create new medicines using RNAi. In addition to the upfront sums, Dicerna could receive up to $350 million per target in development and commercialization milestones.
The companies stated they plan to collaborate on more than 10 targets, which brings the potential total value of the deal to several billion dollars if multiple targets prove successful.
Lilly's deal follows fellow pharmaceutical heavyweight Johnson & Johnson, which inked an RNAi licensing deal worth up to $3.75 billion earlier this month with Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals.
RNAi research has made big strides recently, delivering on the promise first sketched out by Andrew Fire and Craig Mello in the late 1990s. Earlier this year, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals became the first company to bring an RNAi therapeutic through to U.S. approval with its rare disease drug Onpattro (patisiran).
Elsewhere in RNA research, Ionis Pharmaceuticals has also delivered a number of medicines using its oligonucleotide platform.
Lilly and Dicerna stated they will also look to "generate next-generation oligonucleotide therapeutic agents."
Dicerna's recent deals make the $15 million the biotech needs to pay out to Alnylam as part of a legal settlement agreement more palatable, as the company cleared overhanging legal risk.
For equity investments in Dicerna, Lilly paid a $18.47 share price for $100 million of stock, while Alexion paid $17.95 per share in its deal last week.
And while the biotech and pharma market has taken a dip recently, these deals have engineered a self-made stock rally for Dicerna. The company's shares opened last week just below $12, finished on Friday at $13 and now opened Monday at $15.86.