Lilly hopes to leverage NextCure’s FIND-IO technology for cancer immunotherapy development.

Eli Lilly is committed to expanding its position in the cancer immunotherapy space. Earlier in 2018 the company acquired cytokine drug developer Armo Biosciences for $1.6 billion and AurKa Pharma, which develops drugs that target cancer growth enzymes referred to as Aurora kinases.

The latest move by Eli Lilly is a collaboration with NextCure, a biotech company that identifies molecular targets that when correctly modulated can drive immune responses to tumors. 

As part of this latest collaboration, Lilly will pay NextCure $25 million upfront and invest $15 million in NextCure equity. Both companies have the option to license any antibodies identified during the collaboration using NextCure’s FIND-IO technology, which identifies molecular interactions that affect immune responses in the tumor microenvironment. NextCure will receive additional milestone payments and royalties on sales if Lilly further develops and commercializes any drugs as a result of the partnership.