USA—Eli Lilly and Company has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Morphic Holding, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company that develops oral integrin therapies for treating serious chronic diseases.

Under this deal, Eli Lilly has agreed to buy Morphic Holding for US$3.2 billion in cash, thereby beefing up its inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) drug portfolio and expanding its footprint in the multi-billion-dollar market.

This transaction will see Lilly acquire all outstanding shares of Morphic for a purchase price of US$57 per share in cash, totaling approximately US$3.2 billion, payable at closing.

The boards of directors of both companies have approved this transaction, highlighting the strategic significance of the acquisition.

Through this deal, Lilly will also acquire Morphic’s lead program, a selective oral small molecule inhibitor of α4β7 integrin known as MORF-057, designed for treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

This molecule can potentially improve outcomes and expand treatment options for patients.

Currently, MORF-057 is being evaluated in two Phase 2 studies in ulcerative colitis and one Phase 2 study in Crohn’s disease.

Furthermore, Morphic is developing a preclinical pipeline of other molecules to treat autoimmune diseases, pulmonary hypertensive diseases, fibrotic diseases, and cancer.

Commenting on the acquisition, Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Lilly and president of Lilly Research Laboratories and Lilly Immunology, emphasized that the acquisition offers an opportunity to explore oral therapies, which could open up new possibilities for earlier intervention in diseases like ulcerative colitis.

 Additionally, this acquisition provides the potential for combination therapy to help patients with more severe diseases.

He expressed his eagerness to welcome Morphic colleagues to Lilly, noting that this strategic transaction reinforces their commitment to developing new therapies in gastroenterology, where Lilly has made significant investments to deliver first-in-class molecules for the benefit of patients.

On his part, Praveen Tipirneni, M.D., CEO of Morphic Therapeutic, noted that Morphic has always believed in the immense potential of MORF-057 to benefit patients suffering from IBD.

He added that this potential could be optimized by an ideal strategic partner like Lilly.

According to Dr. Tipirneni, Lilly brings unparalleled resources and commitment to the inflammation and immunology field.

He highlighted that they built the Morphic Integrin Technology platform to realize the vast opportunity of integrin therapeutics, with MORF-057 being a prime example of those efforts.

This oral small molecule α4β7 inhibitor has the potential to be well tolerated and efficacious, attributes that could unlock new possibilities in IBD treatment.

He thanked the entire Morphic team for their expertise, creativity, and tenacity and also expressed gratitude to the investigators and patients who have contributed to the success of MORF-057 thus far.

Dr. Tipirneni concluded by expressing his anticipation for the future path of MORF-057 and other integrin medicines under Lilly’s stewardship.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Lilly’s Omvoh for treating adults with moderate-to-severe active ulcerative colitis.

This drug is among Lilly’s potential growth drivers for this decade, alongside its diabetes and obesity drugs, Mounjaro and Zepbound.

Other drugmakers, such as AbbVie Inc., Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson, are also competing for a share of the multi-billion-dollar bowel disease market.

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