USA – Eli Lilly has formed a multi-year collaboration with China-based Regor Therapeutics Group to discover and develop new therapies for metabolic disorders in a deal that will see the former pay the Chinese biotech an upfront payment of up to US$50 million, with a portion of that amount being an equity investment.

The collaboration enables both companies to benefit from existing compounds and technologies in order to develop new assets.

In their announcement, the companies did not specify any specific targets, but they did state that working together will give them multiple opportunities to “maximize patient treatment choice.”

Diabetes, obesity, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are examples of common metabolic disorders. These types of metabolic disorders have an impact on the lives of millions of people all over the world. Eli Lilly is well-known in the diabetes industry for its insulin products.

Lilly stated in a vague press release that it has a license for certain Regor “intellectual property” and will have the option to extend that license.

In exchange, Lilly will oversee global clinical development and commercialization of any therapies, excluding China, Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The rights to these regions will be reserved by Regor, a Shanghai-based company.

The company could receive up to US$1.5 billion in potential payments based on preclinical, clinical, and commercial milestones, as well as tiered sales royalties.

According to Regor CEO Xiayang Qiu, the collaboration is a recognition of Regor’s core technology, the Computer Accelerated Rational Discovery platform (CARD).

CARD, the latest in a long line of obliquely named biotech computational platforms, is intended to speed up the process of discovering new drugs.

In just two years, the CARD team has advanced a number of products in its pipeline, including RGT-587 for oncology, which is about to enter Phase I trials, and RGT-075 to target a glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor hormone, which stimulates glucose-induced insulin secretion. That candidate is now in Phase II/III clinical trials.

The company was founded in 2018 by two Pfizer veterans and three Amgen employees — Qiu and Min Zhong, as well as CTO Wenge Zhong — who previously worked for Amgen’s Chinese R&D operations. Regor has previously focused on oncology, metabolic diseases, and autoimmune diseases.

Regor’s technology will also allow Lilly to further accelerate innovation and deliver breakthrough therapies in obesity and diabetes,” said Ruth Gimeno, Lilly’s vice president of diabetes research, in a statement.

Lilly Asia Ventures led the Series B fundraising round in February, raising US$90 million to support the company’s clinical development.

It also received funding from Loyal Valley Capital, a company that helped finance the social media video app TikTok and was named a top-10 influential private equity firm in China.

Liked this article? Sign up to receive our regular email newsletters, focused on Africa and World’s healthcare industry, directly into your inbox. SUBSCRIBE HERE