Eli Lilly has announced an oncology alliance with Deciphera Pharmaceuticals which could net the privately-held US firm up to $520 million.

The two companies have entered into a collaboration and licensing agreement related to Deciphera's preclinical B-Raf kinase inhibitor programme for the study of potential oncology therapeutics in four different project areas. Lilly will obtain exclusive worldwide rights to any products developed as part of the partnership, while Deciphera will receive an undisclosed upfront payment and research funding over the next two years.

The Kansas-based company may also receive up to $130 million in potential development, regulatory and sales milestones for each of the four project areas. Deciphera will also be entitled to royalties on sales.

William Chin, vice president of discovery research and clinical investigation at Lilly, said that the deal is further evidence of the firm’s commitment to oncology research. Daniel Flynn, Deciphera’s chief executive, said the collaboration “marks an important milestone in the growth and development of our company”, which was established in 2003. He added that it provides the firm with the opportunity “to advance our B-Raf kinase 'switch pocket' inhibitors into the clinic”.

Lilly sets up JV with India’s Jubilant
Meantime Lilly has also formed a 50:50 joint venture in India with the country’s Jubilant Organosys to provide drug development services to the companies' partnered molecules.

The JV, which will be based in Bangalore, will focus on drugs in the oncology, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular and diabetes segments and will take preclinical molecules through to Phase II clinical testing. The two companies, which previously signed a five-year drug discovery partnership in 2006, will jointly invest $8 million in the JV over three years.