Sitryx announces major licensing and research collaboration with Lilly

Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) has just announced an exclusive global licensing and research collaboration with Sitryx, a biopharmaceutical company focused on regulating cell metabolism to develop disease-modifying therapeutics in immuno-oncology and immuno-inflammation.

Sitryx was co-founded by Luke O’Neill, professor of biochemistry at Trinity, in 2018, partly based on discoveries made in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI).

Together with cofounders Houman Ashrafian (Oxford), Jeff Rathmell (Vanderbilt), Jonathan Powell (Johns Hopkins), Mike Rosenblum (UCSF) and Paul Peter Tak (Kintai therapeutics), Sitryx raised $30 million Series A funding in 2018 from an international syndicate of specialist investors including SV Health Investors, Sofinnova Partners, Longwood Fund and GSK.

The collaboration will study up to four novel preclinical targets identified by Sitryx that could lead to potential new medicines for autoimmune diseases.

Professor Luke O’Neill said:

“This is a tremendous collaboration for Sitryx and we are delighted to work with Lilly, one of the world’s leading immunology companies. My lab in Trinity is collaborating closely with Sitryx, with two scientists – Dr Eva Palsson McDermott and Dr Zbigniew Zaslona – working on two projects for Sitryx in TBSI. We look forward to further extensive collaboration as part of this development.” 

Neil Weir, PhD, chief executive officer of Sitryx, said:

“We are excited to partner with Lilly to pursue the discovery of novel targets and the development of innovative therapies for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in the fast-emerging area of immunometabolism. This agreement is transformational for Sitryx and further validates the strength of our scientific expertise and that of our Founder network and the potential for Sitryx to become a leader in this field.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Sitryx will receive an upfront payment of $50 million and Lilly will make a $10 million equity investment in Sitryx.

Sitryx will be eligible to receive potential development milestones up to $820 million, as well as commercialisation milestones and royalty payments on potential sales in the mid- to high-single digit range. In return, Sitryx will grant Lilly an exclusive, worldwide license to develop and commercialise up to four novel immunometabolism targeted therapeutics, including Sitryx’s two lead projects.

Lilly and Sitryx will establish a five-year research collaboration to support the development of the therapeutics, with Sitryx responsible for drug discovery, while Lilly will fund and manage the clinical development and commercial phase of the collaboration.

Professor Luke O’Neill added:

“This collaboration holds huge promise for the development of wholly new anti-inflammatory medicines that have the potential to bring tremendous benefits to patients with inflammatory diseases where the need remains great.”