Junshi Biosciences teams up with Eli Lilly

Ding Yining
The companies will together explore new antibody therapies for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, with Junshi maintaining domestic market rights.
Ding Yining

Shanghai-headquartered biopharma firm Junshi Biosciences Co has teamed up with pharma giant Eli Lilly to explore new antibody therapies for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Eli Lilly will receive an exclusive license to conduct clinical development, manufacturing and distribution of products outside of China, with Junshi Biosciences maintaining all rights in the domestic market.

Junshi will first receive a US$10 million payment from Eli Lilly, followed by as much as US$245 million in subsequent installments when development reaches key stages such as obtaining regulatory approval and progress in clinical trials.

Multiple neutralizing antibodies have been engineered, with the lead candidate being expected to enter clinical testing in the second quarter, Hong Kong-listed Junshi said in a statement.

Junshi started collaboration with the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in March to work on finding antibodies that can prevent the new virus from entering cells.

“Entering into this agreement with Eli Lilly empowers us to accelerate the clinical development of Junshi SARS-CoV-2 antibodies globally,” said Li Ning, Junshi’s chief executive officer. "At the same time, by leveraging Lilly's global presence and capabilities, we have the potential to reach broader COVID-19 patient populations in a wider range of countries and regions."

The two parties aim to submit an investigative new drug application and start clinical studies in the United States in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, Eli Lilly is also working with the Center for Drug Evaluation of China's National Medical Products Administration to initiate new drug application submission in China as soon as possible.

"As the number of global cases continues to grow, there is an urgent need to study multiple complementary approaches to address this disease," said Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly's chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories.

"The data generated by Junshi Biosciences suggests the lead antibody may have appropriate properties to support testing its therapeutic use in patients as well as exploring its potential for preventing infection in at-risk individuals."

Eli Lilly has also agreed on a preliminary share purchase deal which will allow the company to buy US$75 million of newly issued Junshi shares.

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