WASHINGTON, June 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today at the BIO International Convention, Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) announced a multi-million dollar investment to expand its existing biotechnology capabilities. This investment is further fueling research and development of multi-specific therapeutics, in which two or more distinct mechanisms of action are engineered in one molecule with the goal of providing enhanced efficacy with an improved safety profile.
"In many therapeutic areas -- for instance, diabetes and oncology-- one medicine isn't enough for patients to manage their disease," said Tom Bumol, Ph.D., vice president of biotechnology discovery research at Lilly. "With our extensive biologics experience, we can now engineer new therapies where one medicine essentially provides the benefit of two. This could produce real benefits for patients, healthcare professionals and payors."
Lilly already has several multi-specific therapeutics in preclinical development, including a co-agonist peptide being studied as a potential treatment for diabetes that is anticipated to enter clinical development by the end of this year. Lilly is hiring additional biochemists and biologists to further support its important work in multi-specific therapeutics. These new employees will work at Lilly's biotechnology facilities in Indianapolis and San Diego.
Multi-specific therapeutics are different from combination therapies. With combination therapies, molecules are administered separately to hit two or more targets that contribute to disease. With multi-specific therapeutics, two or more mechanisms of action are literally combined with molecular biology into a single molecule to hit these same targets. Scientists believe that they can design these novel molecules with protein engineering strategies that maximize therapeutic benefit while also minimizing or even removing some side effects.
Lilly is utilizing its extensive protein engineering expertise—the process of changing the sequence of a gene coding for a protein in order to bring about desirable changes in function—to make these multi-specific therapeutics function in a way that most benefit patients. This protein engineering expertise has been built internally in its Indianapolis biotechnology research group and through earlier acquisitions of Applied Molecular Evolution (AME). Lilly is also analyzing its historic library of protein and antibody assets, a compilation of molecules from decades of research in Lilly Research Laboratories, AME and ImClone, to determine their potential to be engineered into multi-specific therapeutics.
"We are building on our strong and successful biotechnology platform which has delivered an exciting mid- to late-stage biotechnology pipeline," said Jan M. Lundberg, Ph.D., Lilly's executive vice president of science and technology, and president of Lilly Research Laboratories. "Our further investment in multi-specific therapeutics underscores Lilly's commitment to the field of biotechnology and its importance to providing improved outcomes for individual patients."
Boosting the company's biotechnology capabilities is one example of how innovation is key to everything Lilly does. In a panel discussion today at the BIO International Convention, John Lechleiter, Ph.D., Lilly's chairman, president, and chief executive officer will explain that the pursuit of innovation in any field is a difficult, high-risk venture and, as such, it's crucial to have an environment where innovation can thrive. With biotechnology as a cornerstone of its innovation strategy, Lilly will continue to invest in solutions for patients' urgent, unmet needs.
About Eli Lilly and Company
Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers – through medicines and information – for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Additional information about Lilly is available at www.lilly.com.
This press release contains forward-looking statements about Lilly's research efforts with regard to multi-specific therapeutics and reflects Lilly's current beliefs. As with any pharmaceutical research, there are substantial risks and uncertainties in the process of development and commercialization. There is no guarantee that this research will produce any potential medicines, or that any such compounds will be proven safe and effective for a disease(s). There is also no guarantee that any such compound will be approved for marketing in the United States or any other country or achieve commercial success. For further discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties, see Lilly's filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Lilly undertakes no duty to update forward-looking statements.
SOURCE Eli Lilly and Company