Lilly and Foghorn in Oncology Collaboration

20.12.2021 - Loxo Oncology at Lilly and Foghorn Therapeutics are collaborating to create novel oncology medicines based on the latter’s Gene Traffic Control platform. Under the terms of the deal, Lilly will pay Foghorn $300 million in cash upfront as well as making an equity investment of $80 million.

The partnership includes a co-development and co-commercialization agreement for Foghorn’s selective brahma-related gene-1 (BRG1) mutation (BRM) oncology program, an additional undisclosed oncology target and three further discovery programs using the Gene Traffic Control platform.

Foghorn is developing its BRM-selective program to address BRG1-mutated cancers using two distinct approaches, including protein degradation and enzymatic inhibition. It currently has two oncology product candidates undergoing clinical trials.

According to the companies, data suggest there are over 30 different cancers with BRG1 mutations accounting for approximately 5% of all tumors and up to 10% of non-small cell lung cancer tumors, with minimal overlap with other driver mutations.

"Oncogenic mutations in BRG1 impact a large population of cancer patients and we believe are best addressed therapeutically with a highly selective BRM inhibitor, though designing such a drug is a difficult chemistry challenge.” said Jacob Van Naarden, CEO of Loxo Oncology at Lilly and president, Lilly Oncology. "Foghorn has a differentiated platform and we look forward to the prospect of leveraging it to discover multiple new drugs against similarly challenging targets with strong biologic rationale."

Adrian Gottschalk, CEO of Foghorn, added that the collaboration “enables an acceleration and expansion of our pipeline and significantly strengthens our balance sheet as we strive to bring new medicines to patients and their families."  

Through its Gene Traffic Control program, Foghorn is studying, identifying and validating potential drug targets within the chromatin regulatory system, which regulates gene expression by directing the movement of molecules that turn genes on and off. Disease dependencies associated with the chromatin regulatory system are estimated to impact more than 2.5 million cancer patients across Europe, the US and Japan. This system is further implicated in neurological, autoimmune and other serious diseases.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist