Eli Lilly bolsters immuno-oncology with $1.6bn ARMO acquisition

Record M&A activity for life sciences sector
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Eli Lilly is bolstering its clinical portfolio with the $1.6 billion acquisition of ARMO BioSciences whose lead immune-oncology asset – pegilodecakin – is being studied in multiple tumour types.

ARMO BioSciences is a late-stage immuno-oncology company that is developing a pipeline of novel, proprietary product candidates designed to activate the immune system of cancer patients to recognise and eradicate tumours.

The acquisition will bolster Lilly’s immuno-oncology program through the addition of ARMO’s lead product candidate, pegilodecakin, a PEGylated IL-10 which has demonstrated clinical benefit as a single agent, and in combination with both chemotherapy and checkpoint inhibitor therapy, across several tumour types.

Pegilodecakin is currently being studied in a Phase 3 clinical trial in pancreatic cancer, as well as earlier-Phase trials in lung and renal cell cancer, melanoma and other solid tumour types.

ARMO also has a number of other immuno-oncology product candidates in various stages of pre-clinical development.

Sue Mahony, Lilly senior vice president and president of Lilly Oncology, said: “The acquisition of ARMO BioSciences adds a promising next generation clinical immunotherapy asset to Lilly’s portfolio of innovative oncology medicines.”

Levi Garraway, Senior Vice President, global development and medical affairs, Lilly Oncology, added: “We believe that pegilodecakin has a unique immunologic mechanism of action that could eventually allow physicians to offer new hope for many cancer patients.”