Lilly takes back cancer drug with AurKa buy

Eli Lilly has unveiled a deal to buy AurKa Pharma, bringing back in-house the experimental cancer drug AK-01.

AK-01 has been shown to be highly selective for Aurora A, which is believed to play a crucial role in cellular division by controlling chromosomal segregation and is frequently overexpressed in cancerous tumors. AurKa is currently studying the Aurora kinase A inhibitor in Phase I clinical trials in various types of solid tumors.

Under the terms of the deal, Lilly would acquire all shares of AurKa for an upfront payment of $110 million, and up to $465 million in additonal milestone payments. The acquisition supports Lilly’s external innovation strategy, in which the company says it seeks to partner with leading life science venture capital firms in order to identify, support and access promising innovation in areas of unmet medical need.