Eli Lilly agrees to buy weight-loss drugmaker Versanis for nearly $2 billion

Eli Lilly and Versanis announced Friday that Lilly agreed to buy Versanis in a $1.9 billion cash deal, subject to regulatory approval. Photo courtesy of Eli Lilly Facebook

July 14 (UPI) — Eli Lilly announced Friday a $1.93 billion cash deal to buy Versanis, a private clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on weight-loss drugs.

Versanis’ lead drug, bimagrumab, is currently in trials alone and in combination with semaglutide for overweight and obese adults.

“Lilly is committed to investigating potential new medicines to fight cardiometabolic diseases, including obesity, a chronic disease that affects over 100 million Americans,” Lilly Vice President Ruth Gimeno said in a statement.

“By unifying the knowledge and expertise in incretin biology at Lilly with the deep understanding of activin biology at Versanis, we aim to harness the potential benefits of such combinations for patients.”

Versanis CEO and Chairman Dr. Mark Pruzanski said: “It has been a privilege for our team to advance bimagrumab to address one of the greatest health crises of our time. As a global leader developing life-changing medicines, Lilly is ideally positioned to realize the potential of bimagrumab in combination with its incretin therapies to benefit people living with cardiometabolic diseases.”

Semaglutide, sold under the brand names Wegovy and Ozempic, is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, which slows digestion, decreases hunger, reduces how much people eat and prompts weight loss.

Bimagrumab is a monoclonal antibody that binds activin type II A and B receptors to block activin and myostatin signaling, which can lead to muscle loss.

Investigators are studying whether combining the drugs can reduce fat while preserving muscle mass.

The Eli Lilly deal to acquire Veranis is subject to regulatory approval.

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