Eli Lilly and Company and Alnara Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced they have signed a definitive merger agreement whereby Lilly will acquire Alnara, a privately held biotechnology company developing protein therapeutics for the treatment of metabolic diseases. Alnara's lead product in development is liprotamase, a non-porcine pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT). Liprotamase is under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). Causes of EPI include cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, pancreatectomy and other conditions.

Patients with pancreatic insufficiency cannot properly digest and absorb fat, protein, and carbohydrates -- preventing adequate nutrient absorption. PERT is a treatment involving the administration of three pancreatic enzymes. EPI often is associated with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disorder.

Cystic fibrosis affects approximately 30,000 children and adults in the United States and nearly 100,000 people worldwide. Approximately 90 percent of cystic fibrosis patients receive pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy to improve nutritional status and bowel-related symptoms related to pancreatic insufficiency.

Financial terms of the agreement are not being disclosed. The transaction is contingent upon clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary closing conditions. J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Alnara Pharmaceuticals and WilmerHale is serving as legal advisor to Alnara Pharmaceuticals.

"The acquisition of Alnara provides Lilly with a promising entry into enzyme replacement therapy -- an area with unmet medical needs as well as opportunities for novel compounds that give patients additional treatment options," said Bryce Carmine, executive vice president of Lilly and president of Lilly BioMedicines. "Alnara has been very successful in the development of liprotamase -- as indicated by its recent submission to the FDA -- and we look forward to partnering with Alnara's experts during the regulatory review process."

Alexey Margolin, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Alnara, said: "Our agreement with Lilly is an important development as we move liprotamase through FDA regulatory review. Lilly's deep expertise in the U.S. pharmaceutical business, including regulatory affairs and the development of innovative compounds that address unmet medical needs, created a natural fit and could allow for opportunities in markets beyond cystic fibrosis. We look forward to finalizing the transaction and working together on next steps to bring liprotamase to patients."

If approved, liprotamase will allow many patients to use significantly fewer pills compared to current treatment options. Treatments in the PERT class reduce malabsorption and enhance nutrition in patients with EPI. Because it is not derived from a porcine source, liprotamase could provide the added benefit for patients of reduction in the risk of viral exposure. A pediatric formulation of liprotamase also is in development.

Source: Eli Lilly

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