Eli Lilly is hooking up with non-profit medical research group Sanford-Burnham to discover and develop new immunological therapies for a variety of conditions.

The research collaboration will target multiple immune checkpoint modulators to develop new treatments for diseases such as lupus, Sjögren's Syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune disorders.

The partnership will utilise Lilly's biotechnology capabilities and immunology expertise and Sanford-Burnham's understanding of the fundamental cellular pathways regulating the immune system to develop “the next generation of transformative treatments for autoimmune disease,” said the latter’s chief executive Perry Nisen.

A high degree of interaction will allow the organisations to “flexibly and efficiently advance projects to clinical investigation”, the groups noted. However, further terms of the deal were kept under wraps.

Lilly’s growing focus on immunology in recent years has given rise to seven molecules currently in its pipeline for conditions such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and inflammatory bowel disease.