Anima Biotech Inks $1 Billion-Plus Deal with Eli Lilly

Biotechnology Deal

Anima Biotech, based in Bernardsville, New Jersey, inked a discovery and development deal with Eli Lilly and Co. that has the potential to exceed $1 billion.

The collaboration is to discover and develop translation inhibitors for several target proteins using Anima’s Translation Control Therapeutics platform. It is a multi-year deal set around undisclosed Lilly targets. Anima will use its platform to discover lead candidates that affect the translation of the Lilly targets. Lilly will then handle clinical development and commercialization.

Under the terms of the deal, Lilly is paying Anima $30 million upfront and $14 million in research funding. Anima is eligible for up to $1.05 billion in development and commercial milestones. Anima is also entitled to tiered royalties on any products that result from the collaboration in the low to mid-single digits.

Anima’s cloud-based technology platform combines new biology with proprietary image analysis and high-performance big data software. Anima’s own pipeline is in multiple therapeutic areas including fibrosis, viral infections, oncology and neuroscience.

“We are excited to collaborate with Lilly in the discovery of new drugs for some of the world’s most challenging diseases,” said Yochi Slonim, Anima’s co-founder and chief executive officer, in a statement. “Small molecule drugs work by binding to disease-causing proteins to modify their chemical activity but most proteins lack accessible binding sites and as a result, many diseases remain without effective treatments. Anima’s Translation Control Therapeutics platform is a new strategy against these undruggable target proteins. Rather than attempt to drug them after they are already made, we discover drugs that work one step before, by inhibiting (decreasing) or increasing the actual production by ribosomes of those proteins. This different approach is based on our novel science and patented technology and we believe it can lead to many new drugs.”

The company’s technology was developed over eight years in collaboration with the ribosome biochemistry laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. It was validated in-house with its internal pipeline programs in fibrosis, viruses, oncology and Huntington’s disease. The fibrosis program was inhibiting the synthesis of Collagen type 1. The viral program was interfering with viral protein synthesis. The oncology program was inhibition of C-Myc translation. The Huntington’s disease program monitored mutant Huntington translation pausing.

The tech platform screens compound libraries, and using protein synthesis monitoring assays, creates millions of images showing the impact of different compounds on the target protein’s translation. The images are uploaded in real time to the platform’s cloud servers where they use their bioinformatics tools to analyze the imaging using big data analysis to identify hit molecules they believe can control the translation of the target protein.

The company states, “Through our collaboration programs we continuously expand the scope of our technology and validate it in new therapeutic areas. Seventeen partners are collaborating with us on PSM related research that has so far resulted in 14 publications in leading journals with additional publications in the pipeline.”

Those partners include Duke University, The Scripps Research Institute, the University of Haifa, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Texas at Austin and others.

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