Lilly's Prevail revises $2.6B biobucks deal with Precision to take on more preclinical work

Eli Lilly’s Prevail Therapeutics has changed up a licensing agreement with gene therapy biotech Precision Therapeutics, dropping the biobucks value and seeking a bigger share of pre-clinical duties.

The initial deal was inked in November 2020, when Lilly paid out $100 million cash to Precision to develop in vivo gene therapies for three gene targets, starting with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Lilly put another $35 million investment into Precision and offered up to $420 million in development and commercialization milestones per product that moves forward. At the time, the Big Pharma said if it chose another three targets beyond the initial three, the deal had the potential to surpass $2.6 billion in value.

Less than a month later, Lilly acquired Prevail for about $1 billion and assigned its new subsidiary to take over the work with Precision.

Now, Lilly and Prevail are changing up the deal, writing that the edits reflect Prevail’s increased involvement in pre-clinical activities, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed July 6.

Under the terms of the revised deal, the two companies will continue to collaborate on developing Precision’s ARCUS nucleases in hopes of creating in vivo therapies for genetic disorders, including DMD and two additional gene targets. The nucleases come from Precision’s ARCUS editing platform, which is derived from a natural enzyme called a homing endonuclease that can target long sequences and is used to insert or delete DNA.

Prevail still can nominate up to three additional gene targets for genetic disorders. However, the Lilly subsidiary will now oversee and fund preclinical research and activities designed to enable human clinical trials. These activities previously fell under Precision’s umbrella.

Prevail will also take over responsibility for manufacturing initial clinical trial materials for the first potential product, which was previously Precision’s responsibility, though it was set to be funded by Prevail. The Lilly unit will still hold on to responsibility for clinical development and commercialization activities for licensed products that come from the partnership. 

Under the new terms, Precision could make up to $395 million in milestone payments per licensed product, a drop from the previous $420 million per product. The terms for potential nomination fees of additional targets and royalties haven’t changed.

Precision said the shift allows it to focus on core capabilities in nuclease generation, development and characterization for its internal programs, according to the SEC documents.