Eli Lilly has signed an agreement with therapeutics company Anima Biotech to discover and develop translation inhibitor drugs for proteins related to a variety of difficult-to-treat diseases.

As part of the deal, Anima will leverage its Translation Control Therapeutics platform for the discovery of lead candidates targeting several of Lilly’s undisclosed targets.

Lilly will carry out clinical development and commercialisation activities associated with the products resulting from the alliance.

The terms of the agreement involve upfront payments worth $30m and $14m in research funding from Lilly to Anima, which is also eligible for up to $1.05bn in potential development and commercial milestones.

Anima could also obtain tiered royalties on sales of any Lilly products developed during the partnership.

The cloud-based Translation Control Therapeutics platform is designed for a new class of drugs that are expected to selectively regulate protein translation for addressing hard and undruggable targets.

Mechanism of action of small molecule drugs involves attachment to disease-causing proteins and changing their chemical activity.

“Rather than attempt to drug them after they are already made, we discover drugs that work one step before.”

However, the majority of such proteins do not have accessible binding sites and thereby hinder the development of effective treatments for associated diseases.

Anima claims that its platform is a new approach against these undruggable target proteins.

Anima Biotech co-founder and CEO Yochi Slonim said: “Rather than attempt to drug them after they are already made, we discover drugs that work one step before, by inhibiting (decreasing) or increasing the actual production by ribosomes of those proteins.

“This different approach is based on our novel science and patented technology and we believe it can lead to many new drugs.”

The platform uses image analysis and high performance big data software. It has already been utilised for Anima’s pipeline programmes across fibrosis, viral infections, oncology and neuroscience areas.