Eli Lilly has unveiled a deal to buy AurKa Pharma, bringing back in-house experimental fisrt-in-class cancer drug AK-01.

AurKa is currently studying the Aurora kinase A inhibitor in Phase I clinical trials in multiple types of solid tumors.

AK-01 has been shown to be highly selective for Aurora A, which is believed to play a crucial role in cellular division by controlling chromosomal segregation and is frequently overexpressed in cancerous tumors.

Under the terms of the deal, Lilly will acquire all shares of AurKa for an upfront payment of $110 million, and up to $465 million in regulatory and sales milestones should AK-01 gain approval in the US and other markets, and achieve certain sales levels.

The acquisition supports Lilly's external innovation strategy, “in which we seek to partner with leading life science venture capital firms in order to identify, support and access promising innovation in areas of unmet medical need," said Darren Carroll, senior vice president of corporate business development at Lilly.