Belgian biotech Galapagos NV has linked hands with US drug major Eli Lilly in a global collaboration deal designed to generate new medicines for the treatment of osteoporosis.

The deal allows Lilly to cherry pick 12 osteoporosis targets generated through Galapagos’ proprietary drug discovery platforms for further development, which the latter firm will then test through proof of concept clinical trials. If successful, Lilly then has the option of choosing which to develop further and put on the market.

The Belgian group stands to receive and upfront fee of 3 million euros from Lilly under the agreement, but could get a whole lost more depending on the number of successful candidates, as each target programme could be worth up to 88 million euros in discovery, development and regulatory milestones. In addition, for each product commercialisation, Galapagos could get up to 130 million euros of one-time sales milestones and up to double-digit royalties on global revenues.

A good fit
Explaining the strategy behind the move, Onno van de Stolpe, Galapagos’ chief executive, said: "This alliance with Lilly fits our strategy to maximize the value of our technology by forming risk/reward sharing deals with top-tier pharmaceutical companies”, and added that the deal “represents the third major alliance that Galapagos has entered into to develop medicines to treat large underserved markets in bone and joint disease.”

The group certainly seems to be an attractive partner for major pharmaceutical groups; just a few days ago Galapagos hooked up with GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s second-largest drugmaker, in a deal to develop new anti-infectives; and in October it signed a big deal with Johnson & Johnson to develop rheumatoid arthritis therapies.