As the year draws to a close, a host of licensing deals are being signed with Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Teva among the firms looking to get their hands on interesting compounds.

First up, Lilly has signed an agreement with Incyte to develop and commercialise oral anti-inflammatory and autoimmune therapies. Specifically the deal centres around Incyte’s Janus kinase (JAK) 1 and 2 inhibitor, INCB28050, which is in a Phase II trial for rheumatoid arthritis, and certain follow-on compounds.

Cashwise, Lilly will make a $90-million upfront payment and Incyte will also be eligible for up to $665 million in milestones, plus tiered double-digit royalties. The deal comes a month after Incyte linked up with Novartis to develop a JAK inhibitor which is in Phase III trials for myelofibrosis.

Pfizer has also been busy and signed an agreement with Athersys covering the latter’s MultiStem, a stem cell therapy for inflammatory bowel disease, It is also being evaluated for several other conditions, including acute myocardial infarction, bone marrow transplant support, and ischemic stroke.

The New York-based drugs giant is only making a $6 million upfront payment, but Athersys could receive up to $105 million if the IBD indication takes off. Ruth McKernan, head of Pfizer Regenerative Medicine, said that “this is an innovative new area and our collaboration with Athersys represents a cornerstone of Pfizer's stem cell and regenerative medicine strategy”.

Athersys says MultiStem represents “a unique "off-the-shelf" stem cell product based on the apparent ability to deliver multiple mechanisms of therapeutic benefit, administration of the product without tissue matching or immunosuppression, and its capacity for large scale production”.

Last but not least, Teva has entered into a licensing and collaboration agreement with Canada’s OncoGenex for OGX-011, which should go into Phase III trials for prostate cancer next year, and non-small cell lung cancer in 2011.

Under the terms of the deal, the Israeli firm is paying a $60 million upfront fee, $10 million of which will be used to buy an equity stake. Teva may shell out as much as $370 million in milestones, plus royalties ranging from the mid-teens to the mid-twenties, percentage-wise. Teva's vice president of global branded products, Moshe Manor, said OGX-011 is a “key component of our branded oncology medicines franchise, expanding our pipeline of existing oncology therapeutics”.