Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY.US) and Versanis Bio announced a definitive agreement for Lilly to acquire Versanis for up to $1.925 billion. Versanis is a privately held, privately held company with a strong track record in the treatment of obesity.
Versanis is a privately held clinical biotherapeutics company focused on developing new drugs for the treatment of cardiometabolic diseases and obesity.
The total value of the deal includes an upfront payment as well as subsequent payments based on development and sales milestones. With Medicxi’s support, Versanis is conducting Phase 2b clinical trials for its lead drug bimagrumab, which targets metabolic diseases and obesity.
Versanis, a potential player in the weight loss space
Headquartered in California, Versanis Bio was founded by Aditum Bio, a biotech investment firm, to discover and develop drugs that target medical problems prevalent in the elderly.
In 2021, Versanis Bio announced the completion of a $70 million Series A financing round to advance the clinical development of Bimagrumab, an activin receptor type II antagonist. The round was co-led by Atlas Venture and Medicxi.
Bimagrumab is Versanis Bio’s primary programme to help overweight and obese adults achieve and maintain a healthy body composition.
Bimagrumab was first developed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals for the treatment of pathological muscle loss and weakness, but was ultimately axed at the clinical trial stage. Versanis then licensed the drug from Novartis through financing and put it on the weight loss track.
Of Versanis’ pipeline in development, Bimagrumab is also the most talked about is a monoclonal antibody drug that acts directly on fat cells and is able to simultaneously reduce fat mass and maintain muscle mass by blocking type II activin receptors and muscle growth inhibitors. Because of its different mechanism of action, Bimagrumab also does not have the “appetite-impairing” side effects of GLP-1 drugs.
Bimagrumab is currently being evaluated alone and in combination with semag