Eli Lilly and Innovent Biologics have signed a major, ground-breaking 10-year deal to work together on the development and potential commercialisation of at least three new cancer treatments. 

In what the firms describe as “one of the largest biotech drug development collaborations in China to date between a multi-national and domestic company,” Innovent will lead development and manufacturing for the three potential medicines in the country, while Lilly will be responsible for commercialisation.

Under the deal: the US drugs giant will contribute its cMet monoclonal antibody gene for possible treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, while Innovent will contribute its monoclonal antibody targeting protein CD-20 for investigation in haematologic malignancies as well as a preclinical immuno-oncology molecule for development in China (with Lilly developing it elsewhere).

Lilly, which announced a $690-million deal yesterday with Korea's Hanmi, will also receive rights to develop and commercialise up to three preclinical bispecific immuno-oncology molecules outside of China.

On the financial side, Innovent gets a total upfront payment of $56 million, but also future payments of more than $400 million for the preclinical immuno-oncology molecule if the product reaches certain development, regulatory and sales milestones.