In a previous equity investment round, Lilly acquired a 14% stake in California-based Promoter


Eli Lilly and Company's Corporate Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Credit: Momoneymoproblemz/Wikipedia.)

Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) has acquired Protomer Technologies, a biotech company developing unique peptide- and protein-engineering platform, in a deal that has a potential value of over $1bn.

Protomer’s platform is used to identify and synthesise molecules capable of sensing glucose or other endogenous modulators of protein activity.

After acquiring a 14% stake in Protomer, through an equity investment alongside JDRF T1D Fund, Lilly is now buying the remaining stake in the company.

Protomer CEO and founder Alborz Mahdavi said: “We have been supported by JDRF since our inception and working closely with one of the leading organizations in type 1 diabetes research has been invaluable for us.

“The Protomer team is excited to embark on the next chapter of our work at Lilly as we focus our efforts on advancing glucose-responsive insulins and accelerating the development of these next-generation protein therapeutics.”

Established in 2015 and based in Pasadena, California, Protomer is engaged in engineering next-generation protein therapeutics that sense molecular activators in the body.

Its chemical biology-based platform would facilitate the development of peptides and proteins with adjustable therapeutic activity that is controlled using small molecules.

The company has leveraged its platform to develop glucose-responsive insulins that can sense sugar levels in the blood and automatically activated as needed throughout the day.

Aquilo Partners is serving as financial advisor and Morrison & Foerster LLP as legal advisor to Protomer for the transaction.

Lilly diabetes research and clinical investigation vice president Ruth Gimeno said: “Lilly has long strived to make life better for people living with diabetes and we have a continued determination to provide real solutions, including innovation in insulin therapy.

“Glucose-sensing insulin is the next frontier and has the potential to revolutionize the treatment and quality of life of people with diabetes by dramatically improving both therapeutic efficacy and safety of insulin therapy.

“Protomer’s glucose-sensing insulin program, based on its proprietary molecular engineering of protein sensors (MEPS) platform, is showing significant promise and Lilly is excited to enhance our diabetes pipeline with the company’s innovative technology.”

In February this year, Lilly has closed its previously announced acquisition of Dermira, for approximately $1.1bn in cash.