Lilly expands portfolio with $1.9bn acquisition of Versanis Bio


In a move marking a significant expansion in the biopharmaceutical sector, Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) has successfully completed the acquisition of Versanis Bio, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical player founded by Aditum Bio in 2021. This strategic acquisition sets the stage for Lilly to delve deeper into pioneering treatments for cardiometabolic diseases, including obesity.

Central to this acquisition is Versanis Bio’s lead asset, bimagrumab. This monoclonal antibody, currently in the BELIEVE Phase 2b study, has shown immense potential in promoting healthy body composition and aiding fat loss in adults. By targeting activin type II A and B receptors, bimagrumab is designed to block both activin and myostatin signaling. Furthermore, its combined study with semaglutide offers a glimmer of hope for enhanced treatment outcomes for adults grappling with obesity-induced complications.

Lilly completes $1.9bn acquisition of Versanis Bio

Lilly completes $1.9bn acquisition of Versanis Bio. Photo courtesy of Momoneymoproblemz/Wikimedia Commons.

Expressing optimism about this new partnership, Ruth Gimeno, the group vice president of diabetes, obesity, and cardiometabolic research at Lilly, emphasized the significance of integrating bimagrumab with Lilly’s current incretin portfolio, which features notable treatments like tirzepatide. Dr. Gimeno believes that such integration might revolutionize the treatment landscape for cardiometabolic diseases, primarily obesity. She further added that the expertise Versanis Bio brings would undoubtedly accelerate Lilly’s R&D endeavors, aiming for a global patient-centric impact.

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Financially, this acquisition could result in Versanis Bio’s shareholders pocketing as much as $1.925 billion in cash. This substantial figure encompasses both the upfront payment and subsequent milestone-driven payouts, contingent on development and sales achievements. The public first caught wind of this potential game-changing deal in July 2023.

Finally, on the legal front, while Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as legal counsel for Lilly, Versanis Bio has multiple partners: Goodwin Procter LLP for legal advice, Cooley LLP for patent-related matters, and J.P. Morgan and Company as the designated financial advisor.

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