Oxford biotech receives $30 million investment from American pharma

Evox Therapeutics

Oxford Science Park-based biotech company Evox Therapeutics has announced a $30 million central nervous system research and licence agreement with the American pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company.

Evox Therapeutics is engineering exosomes to deliver protein and nucleic acid-based therapeutics to treat life-threatening rare diseases. The company is harnessing and engineering the natural delivery capabilities of exosomes to develop an entirely novel class of biotherapeutics.

Eli Lilly will leverage Evox’s proprietary DeliverEXTM platform to develop and deliver drug payloads for the potential treatment of neurological disorders. During this research collaboration and five-target license agreement, Evox will be responsible for exosome engineering in order to achieve brain/central nervous system-targeting, drug loading and analytics.

For years, exosomes were considered to be transporters of cellular waste, but now they are becoming recognised for their critical role in cell-to-cell communication and transportation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Evox will receive a $20 million cash up-front payment, research funding over three years, as well as a $10 million investment from Lilly in exchange for a convertible bond from the Company. Evox will also be eligible for potential pre-clinical and clinical development, regulatory and commercial milestones of up to approximately $1.2 billion, as well as tiered royalties up to low double digits on net sales of products arising from the collaboration.

Dr Antonin de Fougerolles, Chief Executive Officer of Evox, said: “This agreement with Lilly allows us to explore both the potential of our platform to deliver oligonucleotide (short DNA or RNA molecules, oligomers, that have a wide range of applications in genetic testing, research, and forensics), payloads, a class of drugs of increasing importance, and the suitability of our exosome technology for central nervous system targeting. This new deal with another major pharmaceutical company highlights the breadth of opportunity that exists with exosome-based drugs.”

Michael Hutton, Ph.D., Vice President of neurodegeneration research at Lilly, added: “We are pleased to enter into this pre-clinical research and licensing collaboration with Evox, and look forward to studying the potential for their technology to support the development of future medicines for neurological disorders.”