The partnership will discover, develop and commercialise novel small molecules that stimulate tumour-specific immune responses


Lilly and Kumquat enter into small molecules collaboration. (Credit: Pexels from Pixabay.)

Loxo Oncology at Lilly, a company of Eli Lilly (Lilly), has entered into an exclusive collaboration with Kumquat Biosciences to focus on novel small molecule therapies.

The collaboration aims to discover, develop and commercialise potential novel small molecules that stimulate tumour-specific immune responses.

Lilly will make an aggregate payment of $70m, comprising an upfront payment in cash and equity investment in Kumquat.

Kumquat is eligible to receive more than $2bn in potential milestone payments, in addition to royalties on sales of the products from the collaboration.

Kumquat CEO Yi Liu said: “We are very excited to enter into this collaboration with Lilly.

“Kumquat is developing a novel small molecule IO platform and this collaboration with Lilly is expected to greatly expedite the development of this platform and maximise its full potential.

“We look forward to working with Lilly to identify the next generation IO drugs that will benefit a broad population of patients.”

Under the multi-year partnership, Kumquat will leverage its small molecule immuno-oncology (IO) platform to discover novel clinical candidates

Lilly holds an option to select certain drug candidates for further development and global commercialisation, except in Greater China.

Kumquat retains the development and commercialisation rights for each of the drug candidates selected by Lilly in Greater China.

Also, the company holds an option to co-develop and co-commercialise certain drug candidates selected by Lilly in the US.

Loxo Oncology at Lilly CEO Jacob Van Naarden said: “Using small molecule inhibitors to target specific tumour antigens in complex with the immune machinery presents a unique opportunity to stimulate an enhanced tumour-specific immune response.

“We look forward to working with the accomplished Kumquat team to identify candidate medicines that interact with this target class.”

Kumquat Biosciences is a privately held drug discovery and development company engaged in creating breakthrough medicines to treat cancer.

Loxo Oncology at Lilly was formed in December 2019, combining the Lilly Research Laboratories oncology and Loxo Oncology, which was acquired by Lilly in early 2019.