Lilly Acquires Protomer Technologies in Potential $1-Billion Deal

Eli Lilly and Company has announced its acquisition of biotech firm Protomer Technologies, giving it a protein-engineering platform for next-generation protein therapeutics.

On July 14, 2021, Eli Lilly and Company announced the acquisition of Protomer Technologies, a private biotech company specializing in a proprietary peptide- and protein-engineering platform, in a deal potentially worth over $1 billion based on the successful achievement of future development and commercial milestones. The acquisition gives Lilly access to Protomer’s engineering platform, which is used to identify and synthesize molecules that can sense glucose or other endogenous modulators of protein activity for the potential development of next-generation protein therapeutics.

Lilly previously led an equity investment in Protomer with the JDRF T1D Fund, a venture philanthropy fund focused on preventing and treating treat type 1 diabetes (T1D) that provided Lilly with 14% ownership of Protomer. With this new transaction, Lilly is acquiring the remainder of Protomer stock beyond its initial investment.

Protomer’s proprietary chemical biology-based platform enables the development of therapeutic peptides and proteins with tunable activity that can be controlled using small molecules. The company has used this approach to advance a portfolio of therapeutic candidates, including glucose-responsive insulins that can sense sugar levels in the blood and automatically activate as needed throughout the day.

"Lilly has long strived to make life better for people living with diabetes and we have a continued determination to provide real solutions, including innovation in insulin therapy. Glucose-sensing insulin is the next frontier and has the potential to revolutionize the treatment and quality of life of people with diabetes by dramatically improving both therapeutic efficacy and safety of insulin therapy," said Ruth Gimeno, vice-president, diabetes research and clinical investigation at Lilly, in a company press release. "Protomer's glucose-sensing insulin program, based on its proprietary molecular engineering of protein sensors (MEPS) platform, is showing significant promise, and Lilly is excited to enhance our diabetes pipeline with the company's innovative technology."

"We are excited to join Lilly, a leader in diabetes therapies, and advance our science with their support to better serve the needs of patients. This transaction validates our team's accomplishments, and we look forward to continuing our important work together with Lilly," said Alborz Mahdavi, CEO and founder of Protomer, in the press release. "We have been supported by JDRF since our inception and working closely with one of the leading organizations in type 1 diabetes research has been invaluable for us. The Protomer team is excited to embark on the next chapter of our work at Lilly as we focus our efforts on advancing glucose-responsive insulins and accelerating the development of these next-generation protein therapeutics."

Source: Eli Lilly and Company