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May 21, 2010

Ligand Pays $2.75M for Certain Rights to AstraZeneca’s Mid-Stage Asthma Program

  • Ligand Pharmaceuticals is paying $2.75 million to Genaera Liquidating Trust for certain intellectual property and interests in future milestones and royalties related to an asthma drug being developed by MedImmune, AstraZeneca's subsidiary. MEDI-528 is part of an IL-9 antibody program and is currently in a 320-patient Phase II study for moderate-to-severe asthma.

    The deal arose out of initial diligence and work conducted by Biotechnology Value Fund (BVF). Accordingly, Ligand also entered into an agreement with BVF and certain of its affiliates, whereby BVF and Ligand will share the purchase price and any proceeds from the deal equally. Accordingly, BVF has paid Ligand $1.375 million.

    “We believe the IL-9 antibody program could provide a significant revenue stream, if MedImmune’s development and commercialization efforts are successful,” says John L. Higgins, president and CEO of Ligand.

    In January Genaera decided that it would divest its drug development assets. MEDI-528 was originally identified by Genaera and then licensed to MedImmune in 2001. After AstraZeneca’s acquisition of MedImmune in 2007, AstraZeneca initiated the currently ongoing mid-stage trial in 2009.

    The drug is a humanized antibody targeting IL-9, which is thought to be an especially attractive target because it has been demonstrated to be one of the early initiators of multiple interleukin signaling events. The companies thus believe that its inhibition with MEDI-528 could potentially have a broad impact on asthma symptoms.

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