Just a year in and $25M down, Eli Lilly abruptly exits NextCure pact

The pact was penned back in late 2018 but has now been axed (Eli Lilly/LinkedIn).

Eli Lilly has killed off its deal with immuno-oncology biotech NextCure after spending $25 million upfront on the pact just over a year ago, with no details as to why.

That deal, which also included undisclosed milestones, was built upon a platform for scouring cell surface interactions in search of targets that affect immune function with NextCure, which is staffed by executives who led Amplimmune to a takeover by AstraZeneca.

I-O laggard Lilly was hoping this, with other recent buys, would help shore up its cancer pipeline, and saw the Big Pharma pay $25 million upfront and take out a $15 million stake in NextCure for the chance to access the fruits of the platform.

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In return, Lilly bagged an option to exclusively license antibodies against targets discovered using NextCure’s platform and NextCure had the option to license antibodies, too, and could have got milestones and royalties of undisclosed size if the drugs Lilly picks up progress.

Now, that’s been axed.

In an extremely brief SEC update (and no press release at time of writing), Maryland-based NextCure said: “On January 10, 2020, Eli Lilly and Company notified NextCure of Lilly’s termination, effective as of March 3, 2020, of the Research and Development Collaboration Agreement, dated as of November 2, 2018, between the Company and Lilly.”

The biotech is presenting at the J.P. Moran Healthcare Conference this Thursday, where more information will (hopefully) be forthcoming as no explanation has been given. NextCure saw its shares down 6% shortly after the SEC filing was released Monday morning, and was still in the red Tuesday.

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