Eli Lilly and Co. (Lilly) has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Versanis Bio, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing treatments for cardiometabolic diseases.

Under the terms of the agreement, Versanis shareholders are expected to receive up to $1.925bn in cash, including an upfront payment and subsequent milestone payments.

Established in 2021, Versanis is a privately held, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing advanced treatments for people living with cardiometabolic disease.

Lilly said that the transaction, including any related acquired in-process research and development charges, will be treated as a business combination or an asset acquisition.

Lilly group diabetes, obesity and cardiometabolic research vice president Ruth Gimeno said: “Lilly is committed to investigating potential new medicines to fight cardiometabolic diseases, including obesity, a chronic disease that affects over 100 million Americans.

“By unifying the knowledge and expertise in incretin biology at Lilly with the deep understanding of activin biology at Versanis, we aim to harness the potential benefits of such combinations for patients.”

Versanis’ lead asset, bimagrumab, is being developed in the BELIEVE Phase 2b study, as a standalone, and in combination with semaglutide to treat adults who are overweight or obese.

Bimagrumab is a monoclonal antibody that works by binding with activin type II A and B receptors to block activin and myostatin signalling.

The combination of incretins and bimagrumab is said to further reduce fat mass while preserving muscle mass and may lead to better outcomes for people living with obesity and obesity-related complications.

Kirkland and Ellis served as legal counsel to Lilly, while Goodwin Procter served as legal counsel, Cooley as patent advisor, and JP Morgan and Co. as financial advisor to Versanis.

Versanis chairman and CEO Mark Pruzanski said: “It has been a privilege for our team to advance bimagrumab to address one of the greatest health crises of our time.

“As a global leader developing life-changing medicines, Lilly is ideally positioned to realise the potential of bimagrumab in combination with its incretin therapies to benefit people living with cardiometabolic diseases.”