Firm will build on existing expertise and take on new scientists.

Eli Lilly announced plans to invest millions of dollars into its biotechnology capabilities, and in particular into fueling R&D for multispecific therapeutics that are designed with two or more mechanisms of action built into a single molecule. The investment will include hiring new scientists at the firm’s biotech facilities in Indianapolis and San Diego.

Lilly already has multispecific therapeutics in its preclinical pipeline, including a co-agonist peptide that is projected to start in clinical development during 2011, as a potential diabetes therapy. The firm’s approach to the development of multispecific candidates hinges on its protein engineering expertise, which combines in-house capabilities and expertise bought in through the acquisition of Applied Molecular Evolution (AME).

In addition to the newly announced expansion of its R&D activities for multispecific therapeutics, Lilly says it will also mine its existing collection of proteins and antibodies that has been compiled over decades at Lilly Research, AME, and ImClone, to determine their potential for engineering into multispecific therapeutics.

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