Lilly, Rigel in $960-M Licensing Pact for Immunological, Neurodegenerative Diseases

By Miranda Greenberg -

February 18, 2021

Eli Lilly and Company and Rigel Pharmaceuticals, a South San Francisco, California-based biopharmaceutical company, have entered into a global exclusive license agreement and strategic collaboration to co-develop and commercialize Rigel's R552, a drug candidate in Phase I development for treating various indications, including autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, in a $960-million deal ($125 million upfront and $835 million in milestones).

Rigel's R552 is a receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) inhibitor. RIPK1 is a signaling protein implicated in a range of key inflammatory cellular processes, including necroptosis, a type of regulated cell death, and cytokine production. The companies say inhibiting RIPK1 may be a new approach to treating various autoimmune, inflammatory, and neurodegenerative disorders.

R552 is Rigel's lead RIPK1 inhibitor. It has completed Phase I clinical trials and will begin Phase II clinical trials in 2021. Under the agreement, Lilly will pay an upfront cash payment to Rigel of $125 million. Rigel may also be eligible to receive up to $835 million in potential development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments as well as tiered royalties that will vary depending upon Rigel's clinical development investment. Lilly and Rigel will co-develop R552 at specified contribution levels. Lilly will be responsible for all costs of global commercialization for R552, and Rigel will have the right to co-commercialize R552 in the US. Lilly will be solely responsible for all clinical development and commercialization of brain-penetrating RIPK1 inhibitors in central nervous system indications. Rigel has ongoing preclinical activities CNS-penetrant RIPK1 inhibitor candidates.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

Source: Eli Lilly and Company and Rigel Pharmaceuticals