Lilly Inks Potential $1.1B Radiopharma Deal with Aktis Oncology

Eli Lilly

Pictured: Eli Lilly Campus in San Diego/iStock, Michael Vi

Aktis Oncology announced Tuesday a collaboration with Eli Lilly for targeted anticancer radiopharmaceuticals. The Boston-based biotech will receive $60 million cash upfront with additional milestone payments of up to $1.1 billion and royalties on sales.  

Leveraging the biotech’s miniprotein technology platform, Lilly will take worldwide rights to both radiopharma therapeutics and diagnostic products of their choice discovered by Aktis on a “defined set of targets” selected by the drugmaker.  

Aktis’ therapies harness the potency of alpha-emitting particles for precision cancer targeting, while minimizing treatment side effects for a range of solid tumor cancers. Its lead program is in urothelial and other Nectin-4-associated cancers. 

“This collaboration with Aktis Oncology builds upon our growing radiopharmaceutical capabilities and provides access to an exciting and innovative technology for creating important and differentiated radiopharmaceuticals,” Jacob Van Naarden, president of Lilly Oncology, said in a statement. 

Lilly is also making an undisclosed equity investment in Aktis. The deal builds on previous investments in radiopharma. Lilly dropped $1.4 billion to acquire Point Biopharma in October 2023.  

At the time, Van Naarden said it was the “beginning of our investment in developing multiple meaningful radioligand medicines for hard-to-treat cancers.” The acquisition included Point’s lead asset, PNT2002, which targets the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) and is in a Phase III trial for patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer who had progressed after hormonal treatment. 

The space has been heating up with Big Pharma deals across the board. Bristol Myers Squibb purchased RayzeBio at the end of 2023 for $4.1 billion.  AstraZeneca picked up Fusion Pharmaceuticals in March 2024 for its radiopharma pipeline in a deal worth around $2 billion.  

Both current approved radiopharmaceuticals on the market came from Novartis acquisitions—Pluvicto for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancers and Lutathera for gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Earlier this month, Novartis announced a $1 billion buyout of Mariana Oncology on the heels of a deal expansion with PeptiDream in April worth potentially over $2.7 billion.  

Kate Goodwin is a freelance life science writer based in Des Moines, Iowa. She can be reached at kate.goodwin@biospace.com and on LinkedIn.  

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