Eli Lilly to buy privately-held AurKa Pharma in a deal potentially worth $575 mn

US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co today announced that it would buy privately-held AurKa Pharma Inc in a deal potentially worth up to $575 million, in order to add to its portfolio an experimental cancer treatment for solid tumors.

The move comes just three days after the Indianapolis, Indiana-based company proposed acquiring Armo BioSciences Inc for about $1.6 billion in order to strengthen its immuno-oncology portfolio. (See: Eli Lilly to buy Armo BioSciences for $1.6 bn
Under the terms of the AurKa agreement, AurKa Pharma shareholders will receive an upfront payment of $110 million. They will also be eligible to receive up to $465 million in regulatory and sales milestones should AK-01 gain approval in the US and other markets, and achieve certain sales levels.
AurKa Pharma, a company established by TVM Capital Life Science to develop oncology compound AK-01, an Aurora kinase A inhibitor that was originally discovered at Lilly. 
The compound is a potential first-in-class asset that AurKa Pharma is studying in Phase 1 clinical trials in multiple types of solid tumours.
"The acquisition of AurKa Pharma supports Lilly's external innovation strategy, in which we seek to partner with leading life science venture capital firms in order to identify, support and access promising innovation in areas of unmet medical need," said Darren Carroll, senior vice president of corporate business development at Lilly. "
" The acquisition of AurKa Pharma expands our pipeline with a promising oncology compound targeting a distinct cell cycle pathway. The work done by AurKa will allow Lilly to leverage emerging data about cancers in which this molecule might be effective, and determine if it can be beneficial to people living with various forms of cancer," said Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president, global development and medical affairs, Lilly Oncology.
Indianapolis, Indiana-based Eli Lilly was founded in 1876 by Col Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical chemist and veteran of the American Civil War.
It was one of the first pharmaceutical companies to produce human insuluin using recombinant DNA including Humulin, Humalog, and the first approved biosimilar insulin product in the US, Basaglar.
Lilly is currently the largest manufacturer of psychiatric medications and produces Prozac, Dolophine, Cymbalta, and Zyprexa.