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Eli Lilly Scoops Up Beam's Opt-in Rights to Verve's Base-Editing Cardiovascular Genetic Medicines

NEW YORK – Eli Lilly is to acquire Beam Therapeutics' opt-in rights to codevelop and co-commercialize Verve Therapeutics' base-editing, targeted cardiovascular disease therapies.

In the deal announced Tuesday, Lilly will pay Beam $200 million upfront and make a $50 million equity investment in the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Beam in exchange for opt-in rights to Verve's base-editing programs targeting PCSK9, ANGPTL3, and an undisclosed liver-mediated cardiovascular target. Beam is also eligible to receive up to $600 million in future development-stage payments if certain clinical, regulatory, and alliance-related milestones are met.

Verve's PCSK9-targeted cardiovascular drugs include VERVE-101 and VERVE-102, and its ANGPTL3-targeted agent is VERVE-201. The company's aim with these single-course genetic medicines is to lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol over the lifetime of a patient who already has or is at risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Boston-based Verve is developing VERVE-101 and VERVE-102, which are designed to turn off the PCSK9 gene in the liver, initially for heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia and will eventually test them in ASCVD. VERVE-201, which is designed to turn off the ANGPTL3 gene in the liver, is initially under development for homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia and will be developed in the future for refractory hypercholesterolemia.

In acquiring the product rights previously held by Beam for the PCSK9- and ANGPTL3-targeted products, Lilly can now opt in to share 33 percent of worldwide development expenses as well as jointly commercialize and equally share profits and expenses related to commercializing these agents in the US. Similarly, Lilly now can opt in to co-fund and share in profits related to the third, undisclosed cardiovascular disease target. Verve still holds all product rights for the PCSK9 and ANGPTL3 programs outside the US and retains control of developing and commercializing all collaboration products.

The latest deal is an expansion of an existing collaboration between Lilly and Verve. In June, the two firms agreed to work together to clinically advance Verve's in vivo gene-editing therapy targeting the LPA gene, which when mutated can increase lipoprotein(a) levels and heighten the risk for ASCVD.

"We are thrilled to gain Lilly as a potential long-term partner for the next stage of development of our gene-editing medicines for people with ASCVD," said Verve Cofounder and CEO Sekar Kathiresan. "Lilly brings valuable know-how in the cardiometabolic space, as well as commercialization expertise of products for large indications."

Earlier this month, Beam announced it was reducing its workforce by 20 percent, reprioritizing its therapeutic portfolio, and streamlining its business operations in order to extend its cash runway into 2026. "This deal provides meaningful upfront capital to advance our portfolio of clinical- and research-stage programs, with significant additional value achievable as the Verve programs advance through development," said Beam CEO John Evans in a statement.