Lilly moves Loxo Oncology executives into new cancer R&D organization

Lilly, which acquired Loxo in January for $8 billion, said the new organization, dubbed Loxo Oncology at Lilly, would have responsibility for discovery research across therapeutic modalities, clinical development and regulatory affairs.

A Midwestern drugmaker is creating a new internal oncology research and development group as part of its integration of a biotech company it acquired earlier this year.

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co. said it would create a new organization within the company, Loxo Oncology at Lilly. Lilly acquired Stamford, Connecticut-based Loxo Oncology in January for $8 billion. Loxo executives Josh Bilenker, Jacob Van Naarden and Nisha Nanda will lead the organization, reporting to Lilly Chief Scientific Officer Daniel Skovronsky. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center chief of early drug development Dr. David Hyman is also being hired to serve as the new organization’s chief medical officer.

“The Loxo Oncology acquisition has brought talented people and new approaches to Lilly, and we are excited by what we can achieve by incorporating their discovery and development philosophy at a much larger scale,” Skovronsky said in a statement.

Lilly said the new organization would be responsible for discovery research across therapeutic modalities, clinical development and regulatory affairs, with a presence across the U.S. and in Spain. Drugs that the organization will focus on include the RET inhibitor selpercatinib, the BTK inhibitor LOXO-305, the KRAS G12C inhibitor LY3499446 and the estrogen receptor degrader LY3484356.

Prior to its acquisition by Lilly, Loxo won Food and Drug Administration for the drug Vitrakvi (larotrectinib), a drug for solid tumors that exhibit a rare genetic abnormality known as NTRK fusion. The idea behind it is that while the fusions are rare, their status as genetic drivers of cancers means targeting them with an effective drug is likely to produce a response to therapy. Loxo’s development partner, Bayer, has since taken control of Vitrakvi.

Blueprint Medicines has its own RET inhibitor in development, BLU-667. And multiple BTK inhibitors are on the market for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas and chronic graft-versus-host disease: AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica (ibrutinib), AstraZeneca’s Calquence (acalabrutinib) and BeiGene’s Brukinsa (zanubrutinib). Amgen has its own KRAS G12C inhibitor, AMG 510, in Phase I/II development.

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