Rigel Pharmaceuticals Rises on Drug Venture With Eli Lilly

Rigel Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly partnered to develop treatments for immunological and neurodegenerative diseases -- RIPK1 inhibitors.
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Rigel Pharmaceuticals  (RIGL) - Get Report shares jumped on Thursday after the biopharma said it partnered with health-care titan Eli Lilly  (LLY) - Get Report to develop drugs, a deal valued at as much as $960 million.

Specifically, the venture targets drugs to treat immunological and neurodegenerative diseases -- so-called RIPK1 inhibitors. 

Shares of Rigel, South San Francisco, recently traded at $5.43, up 20%. They've soared 82% in the six months through Wednesday.

Under terms of the accord, Eli Lilly will give Rigel Pharmaceuticals $125 million cash at the outset. And Rigel has the opportunity to garner up to $835 million in milestone payments if it reaches specific targets.

Eli Lilly will take on the commercialization of Rigel's lead RIPK1 inhibitor, R552, globally. And Rigel is entitled to co-commercialize the treatment in the U.S.

R552 has completed Phase 1 clinical trials and will begin Phase 2 clinical trials in 2021 as part of the collaboration, Rigel said. 

It also has ongoing preclinical activities with its lead CNS penetrant RIPK1 inhibitor candidates.

RIPK1 is a critical signaling protein implicated in a broad range of key inflammatory cellular processes including necroptosis, a type of regulated cell death, and cytokine production, Rigel said. 

In necroptosis, cells rupture, leading cell contents to disperse, which in turn can trigger an immune response and enhance inflammation.

"This collaboration will provide significant resources and expertise to support a broad investigation in multiple disease indications with our RIPK1 inhibitors," Rigel Pharmaceuticals Chief Executive Raul Rodriguez said in a statement. 

He lauded Eli Lilly's “extensive knowledge in immune and CNS diseases.”

Eli Lilly recently traded at $204.46, off 1%. The stock has jumped 46% in the past three months.

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