INDIANAPOLIS & CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Eli Lilly and Company has announced an agreement to acquire Disarm Therapeutics, a company focused on creating a new class of disease-modifying therapeutics for patients with axonal degeneration.
Under the terms of the agreement, Lilly is set to acquire Disarm for an upfront payment of $135 million. Disarm equity holders could be eligible for up to $1.225 billion in additional future payments for potential development, regulatory and commercial milestones, if Lilly successfully develops and commercializes new medicines resulting from the acquisition.
“Lilly continues to seek medicines to treat the debilitating pain and loss of function associated with nerve damage. The scientific team at Disarm discovered an important and highly promising approach to combat axonal degeneration,” said Mark Mintun, M.D., vice president of pain and neurodegeneration research at Lilly.
Disarm is currently advancing its novel SARM1 inhibitors in preclinical development, with the goal of delivering breakthrough treatments to patients with peripheral neuropathy and other neurological diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis.
Axonal degeneration is a common, albeit unaddressed, pathology in a broad range of neurological diseases. It’s known to cause severe sensory, motor and cognitive symptoms. Disarm’s scientific founders, Dr. Jeffrey Milbrandt and Dr. Aaron DiAntonio of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, discovered that the SARM1 protein is a central driver of axonal degeneration. Disarm has designed its SARM1 inhibitors to directly prevent axon loss.
“Disarm’s innovative approach to treating axonal degeneration holds tremendous promise for addressing a wide spectrum of neurological diseases, and we have made significant strides toward enabling potentially transformative therapies,” noted Alvin Shih, M.D., chief executive officer of Disarm. “Lilly is ideally suited to advance this exciting new approach to treating axonal degeneration, and we look forward to seeing patients benefit from the work that Disarm initiated.”
Disarm was founded by Atlas Venture, Drs. Milbrandt and DiAntonio of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Atlas Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Dr. Rajesh Devraj and Dr. Raul Krauss. Lightstone Ventures and AbbVie Ventures co-invested with Atlas to support the foundational work at Disarm.