Eli Lilly signs $40m licensing deal with Confo Therapeutics over neuropathic pain treatment

pharmafile | March 3, 2023 | News story | Sales and Marketing  

US-based pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has signed a small licensing deal with Belgian start-up Confo Therapeutics to allow them access to the rights for a group of compounds headed by CFTX-1554.


CFTX-1554 is in development as a treatment for neuropathic pain which is the result of damage to the peripheral nerve cells. It is an inhibitor of the angiotensin II type 2 receptor (AT2R) and is considered to be ‘antinociceptive’, meaning it diminishes the body’s response to potentially toxic stimuli by the sensory nervous system.


In the past, this pain was managed by opioids, but more and more companies are turning to alternative therapies due to the highly damaging nature of opioids. AT2R inhibition is one such therapy, however its past has not been overly positive: Novartis discontinued its EMA401 compound due to toxicity rates and the fact that early data from the phase 2 EMPHENE study showed that there was no significant effect on pain levels by the drug.


Within the deal, Eli Lilly will pay Confo $40m upfront and has agreed to take CFTX-1554’s clinical development programme beyond phase 1. It also covers therapeutic antibody candidates targeting AT2R, the scope of which could lead to $590m milestone payments if a second product candidate is approved.


Cedric Ververken, CEO of Confo Therapeutics commented: “We are pleased that [Eli] Lilly, an expert in chronic pain with a wealth of experience in bringing novel therapies to patients, has recognised Confo’s ability to develop best-in-class GPCR drug candidates. CFTX-1554’s progression through the clinic will benefit from Lilly’s experience and global organisation, while we will continue to develop and expand our growing, innovative pipeline of GPCR-targeted assets, both small molecules and biologics.”


James Spargo

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