AC Immune SA (NASDAQ: ACIU) and Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) today announced that the two companies have signed a license and collaboration agreement to research and develop tau aggregation inhibitor small molecules for the potential treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative diseases. The collaboration combines AC Immune's proprietary MorphomerTMplatform technology with Lilly's clinical development expertise and commercial capabilities in central nervous system disorders. The collaboration will focus primarily on AC Immune's lead molecule, ACI-3024, which has demonstrated tau aggregation inhibition in preclinical models.
Under the terms of the agreement, AC Immune will receive an upfront payment of CHF80 million as well as $50 million in exchange for a note, convertible to equity at a premium. AC Immune is also eligible to receive CHF60 million in potential near-term development milestones, as well as other potential development, regulatory and commercial milestones up to approximately CHF1.7 billion, and tiered royalty payments in the low double digits.
AC Immune will conduct the initial Phase 1 development of the Morphomer tau aggregation inhibitors, while Lilly will fund and conduct further clinical development. Lilly will receive worldwide commercialization rights for the tau aggregation inhibitors in the area of Alzheimer's disease. AC Immune has retained certain development rights in orphan indications and co-development and co-promotion options in certain indications outside AD.
Prof. Andrea Pfeifer, CEO of AC Immune, said: "This landmark partnership with Lilly is transformational for the future of AC Immune. Lilly's substantial experience in neurology, and particularly in Alzheimer's disease, is a major validation of our small-molecule platform for CNS therapeutics. It also demonstrates the potential of our pre-clinical assets and adds substantial value to our pipeline. We look forward to working closely with Lilly in this exciting field over the coming years."
"Lilly is an industry leader in Alzheimer's research, with numerous ongoing scientific programs that target suspected causes of the disease, including amyloid plaques and tau tangles," said Mark Mintun, M.D., vice president of neurodegeneration and pain research at Lilly. "This agreement with AC Immune represents another opportunity to hopefully make progress against this devastating disease, and we look forward to together bringing tau aggregation inhibitors into clinical development."
This transaction will be reflected in Lilly's reported results and financial guidance according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). There will be no change to Lilly's 2018 non-GAAP earnings per share guidance as a result of this transaction. This transaction is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary closing conditions.
About AC Immune's Tau MorphomersTM
Several chemical series of small molecules (MorphomersTM) have been identified which selectively and potently reduce toxic intracellular misfolded and aggregated tau. Targeting intracellular misfolded and aggregated tau is widely recognized as an important and attractive potential approach for interfering with the spread of tau pathology throughout the brain. In some proof-of-concept tauopathy models, reduction of tau pathology was also accompanied by a reduction of associated neuroinflammatory markers - another key pathologic feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD).