Eli Lilly today announced it is buying DICE Therapeutics for $2.4 billion. DICE applies its proprietary DELSCAPE technology platform to develop novel oral therapeutic candidates, including IL-17 inhibitors, to treat chronic autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, which are usually treatment with injectables. Its lead products are DC-806, in Phase II, and DC-853, in Phase I.
Kevin Judice, PhD, CEO of DICE Therapeutics, said, ”Our novel approach to discovering and advancing oral, small molecules against validated protein-protein interaction targets has even greater potential with Lilly’s industry-leading clinical development capabilities to get these medicines to patients suffering from autoimmune diseases.”
One of DICE’s targets is psoriasis, a chronic disease estimated to affect 7.55 million people in the U.S. alone. It is an autoimmune disorder that causes overproduction of skin cells. About a third of patients develop an inflammation of the joints called psoriatic arthritis. The global market for this condition was worth more than $26B in 2021 and is expected to almost double in the next few years.
Most of the drugs currently in use for this condition are biologics, which require injection or IV administration. But the potential for oral targeted therapies is great. For example, Amgen bought Celgene’s oral psoriasis drug Otezla for $13.4 billion in 2019. Sales of the drug were over $2.2 billion last year.
“In combination with its novel technology and expertise in drug discovery, DICE’s talented workforce and passion for innovation will enhance our efforts to make life better for people living with devastating autoimmune diseases,” said Patrik Jonsson, executive vice president, president of Lilly Immunology and Lilly USA, chief customer officer.
DICE is using its proprietary technology platform to build a pipeline of novel oral therapeutic candidates to treat chronic diseases in immunology and other therapeutic areas. DICE is initially focused on developing oral therapeutics against well-validated targets in immunology, with the goal of achieving comparable potency to their systemic biologic counterparts, which have demonstrated the greatest therapeutic benefit to date in these disease areas.
The Company’s DELSCAPE platform is designed to discover selective oral small molecules with the potential to modulate protein-protein interactions (PPIs) as effectively as systemic biologics.
DICE’s lead therapeutic candidates are oral antagonists of the pro-inflammatory signaling molecule, IL-17, which is a validated drug target implicated in a variety of immunology indications. DICE is also developing oral therapeutic candidates targeting the integrin α4ß7 for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and fibrosis, and oral PD-li for immunology.
Lilly will now commence a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of DICE for a purchase price of $48 per share in cash (for a total price of about $2.4 billion) payable at closing. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is not subject to any financing condition. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2023. The purchase price payable at closing represents a premium of approximately 40% to the 30-day volume-weighted average trading price of DICE’s common stock ended on June 16, 2023, the last trading day before the announcement of the transaction.