Eli Lilly has completed the acquisition of immuno-oncology company ARMO BioSciences in an all-cash deal valued at nearly $1.6bn.

Lilly originally signed a definitive agreement last month to buy all outstanding shares of ARMO for $50 each. The deal is part of Lilly’s strategy to strengthen its immune-oncology portfolio.

The transaction was carried out by merging Bluegill Acquisition Corporation with ARMO, which has now become a wholly owned subsidiary of Lilly.

Lilly Oncology senior vice-president and president Sue Mahony said: “We are pleased to announce the completion of our acquisition of ARMO BioSciences, which adds a promising clinical immunotherapy asset, pegilodecakin, to Lilly’s oncology portfolio.

“Lilly will continue to pursue medicines that use the body’s immune system in new ways to treat cancer and that have the potential to make a meaningful difference to patients with cancer.”

"Lilly will continue to pursue medicines that use the body’s immune system in new ways to treat cancer."

ARMO is a late-stage immuno-oncology firm working towards the development of new product candidates that will leverage patients’ immune system to detect and destroy tumours.

Pegilodecakin is the company’s lead candidate that is currently undergoing Phase III clinical trial for the treatment of patients suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Previously, the PEGylated IL-10 is said to have demonstrated clinical benefit as a monotherapy, as well as in combination with chemotherapy and checkpoint inhibitor therapy, for a variety of tumours.

The drug candidate is also being studied in other clinical trials for different types of solid tumours, including lung cancer, melanoma and renal cell cancer.

As well as from pegilodecakin, ARMO is also developing other immuno-oncology product candidates.