Eli Lilly strengthens diabetes offering with $1 billion Protomer acquisition

Lilly’s second deal in two months seen as a bet on next-gen technologies in diabetes management.

Last week, the Indiana-based pharma announced it will be acquiring the remaining shares in Protomer Technologies, a private biotech company known for its “proprietary peptide- and protein-engineering platform (which) is used to identify and synthesize molecules that can sense glucose or other endogenous modulators of protein activity” for a fee possibly north of $1 billion. Protomer’s next-gen offering includes “glucose-responsive insulins that can sense sugar levels in the blood and automatically activate as needed throughout the day”, according to a statement issued announcing the transaction, and its technology is seen to be the next frontier in diabetes therapies. With Lilly having owned 14% of Protomer all along, the latest deal will see it acquire the remaining stock to become sole owner of the six-year-old, California based biotech.

“Glucose-sensing insulin is the next frontier and has the potential to revolutionise the treatment and quality of life of people with diabetes by dramatically improving both therapeutic efficacy and safety of insulin therapy," said Ruth Gimeno, vice president, diabetes research and clinical investigation at Lilly. "We are excited to join Lilly, a leader in diabetes therapies, and advance our science with their support to better serve the needs of patients. This transaction validates our team's accomplishments, and we look forward to continuing our important work together with Lilly," said Alborz Mahdavi, CEO and founder of Protomer. Two months ago, Lilly also sealed another partnership deal with MiNA Therapeutics, a pioneer in RNA activation therapeutics, to develop novel therapies using MiNA’s small activating RNA (saRNA) technology platform.