Lilly buys back a migraine therapy from Arteaus Therapeutics

Jan Lundberg, president of Lilly Research Laboratories

Eli Lilly ($LLY) has struck a deal with Arteaus Therapeutics to acquire the Cambridge, MA-based developer's migraine therapy being studied in a Phase II clinical trial.

The experimental therapy is a calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) antibody that acts on vascular and inflammatory processes, which have both been linked to migraine headaches. Initially discovered by Lilly scientists, the drug giant then licensed the molecule to Arteaus for development in a clinical proof-of-concept study.

Arteaus was spun out of Lilly's Capital Funds Portfolio, a venture concept created by Lilly in 2011 made up of virtual project-focused companies backed by independent investment funds that acquire molecules for further development. Arteaus is backed by an $18 million investment by Atlas Venture and OrbiMed. This risk-sharing approach signals Lilly's caution in spending precious R&D dollars after several years of setbacks underscored by one of the worst records for new approvals in Big Pharma.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Lilly said it expects to incur a fourth-quarter 2013 pretax charge of approximately $57.1 million, or approximately $0.03 per share (after-tax).

"Of the 9 project-focused companies currently in the Capital Funds Portfolio, Arteaus is the first to reach proof-of-concept and to achieve positive results. Through this strategy, independent investment firms and portfolio companies provide a unique way to access, share risks, and expand funding to develop molecules, such as the CGRP antibody, to help speed the delivery of timely valued medicines to patients who are waiting," said Jan Lundberg, executive vice president for science and technology and president of Lilly Research Laboratories, in a statement.

The molecule, LY2951742, is being studied in an injectable form to prevent frequent and recurrent migraine headaches, the most common neurological condition. The CGRP antibody is released during activation of sensory neurons involved in pain signaling.

- read the press release

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