- Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim have entered into a collaborative agreement to test two products in combination against metastatic HR+/HER2- breast cancer, the companies announced Wednesday.
- As part of the collaboration, Boehringer’s insulin-like growth factor-1/IGF-2 ligand neutralizing antibody and Lilly’s CDK4/6 inhibitor abemaciclib will be jointly tested for safety and efficacy in a phase 1b trial.
- Both companies stand to win from this alliance: Boehringer only has one drug, Giotrif, in its oncology portfolio; and Lilly has been aiming to boost returns from its development pipeline.
Lilly and Boehringer enjoyed considerable success with their last R&D collaboration: the companies' Jardiance was the first antidiabetic drug proven to decrease the risk of certain cardiovascular events and slow the progression of kidney disease.
In their new collaboration, Lilly and Boehringer are betting on their 'cocktail therapy' approach to interfere with the driving mechanisms behind tumor growth, while also creating an environment in which tumor resistance is decreased.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, and about 75% of breast cancers are HR+.
Boehringer's investigational drug has already been tested in combination with Novartis's Afinitor and Pfizer's Aromasin in a phase 1b/2 trial, showing early promise in patients with HR+ advanced breast cancer. Meanwhile, Lilly's abemaciclib has been designated a 'breakthrough' drug by the FDA.
“For patients living with metastatic breast cancer, the limited treatment options available make this an important area of focus for our efforts to advance the most innovative treatments,” said Richard Gaynor, head of product development and medical affairs for Lilly Oncology.
Lilly and Boehringer hope combining the two drugs could disrupt cancerous cell growth and extend cell cycle arrest.
The market suggests both parties stand to win if this combo proves effective. Pfizer's breast cancer therapy is well on its way to blockbuster status after only a year on the market.