Eli Lilly has entered a research collaboration and exclusive license agreement with Precision BioSciences to use genome editing to develop therapies for genetic disorders.

The lead programme and initial focus of the agreement will be on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), with two further undisclosed gene targets involved in the agreement.

Lilly will utilise Precision’s ARCUS genome editing platform, which is derived from a natural genome-editing enzyme called I-Crel, for the research and development of potential in vivo therapies for DMD and other genetic disorders.

As part of the deal, Precision will receive an upfront payment of $100m, with Lilly also making an equity investment of $35m in Precision’s common stock.

In addition, Precision is eligible to receive up to $420m in potential development and commercialisation milestones per product, as well as tiered royalties ranging from the mid-single digits to low-teens on product sales.

Under the research collaboration, Precision will lead pre-clinical research and IND-enabling activities, while Lilly will assume the responsibility for clinical development and commercialisation.

Lilly will also have the right to select up to three additional gene targets for this collaboration, with Precision retaining an option to co-fund clinical development of one product in return for an increased royalty rate on product sales.

"This collaboration with Precision BioSciences represents another milestone in the realisation of our vision to create medicines with transformational potential, using new therapeutic modalities such as gene editing to tackle targets and indications which were previously undruggable," added Andrew Adams, vice president of new therapeutic modalities at Lilly.

"Collaborating with Lilly, a global healthcare leader with strong clinical and commercial experience in difficult-to-treat diseases, will help us accelerate our work aimed to solve genetic diseases with unique editing challenges,” added Derek Jantz, chief scientific officer and co-founder of Precision BioSciences