Ligand Pharmaceuticals has licensed rights to four drug development programs to Seelos Therapeutics, a recently formed biopharma specializing in central nervous system (CNS), respiratory, and other disorders, in a deal that could generate up to $150 million for Ligand.

The licensed programs, Ligand said, include its SLS-006 (formerly aplindore) program for various CNS disorders, a CRTH2 antagonist program for respiratory disorders, a Captisol-enabled™ acetaminophen program for pain and fever management, and an H3 receptor antagonist program for narcolepsy.

SLS-006 is a potent partial agonist of the dopamine D2 receptor that has been clinically validated in Phase II trials for restless leg syndrome and Parkinson’s disease, according to Ligand and Seelos. Tested in more than 340 patients, SLS-006 has also shown potent activity as an adjunctive therapy to highly reduced dosages of L-dopa in late-stage Parkinson's disease.

Under their license agreement, Seelos agreed to pay Ligand an initial $1.3 million in equity or cash upon Seelos’ completing a minimum of $7.5 million financing, up to an additional $3.5 million if Seelos becomes a public company, and up to $145 million cash tied to achieving unspecified milestones. Seelos also agreed to pay Ligand net sales royalties ranging from 4% to 10% for the various programs licensed.

Ligand has also entered into a supply agreement for Captisol and agreed to provide a 3-year convertible loan facility of up to $500,000 to Seelos, tied to unspecified conditions.

Seelos is responsible for all development activities under the license.

“This partnership highlights Seelos' focus on developing late-stage CNS product candidates with proven mechanism of action,” Raj Mehra, Seelos’ chairman, founder and CEO, said in a statement.

Ligand CEO John Higgins cited his company’s success in licensing assets to companies at early stages, citing Retrophin, Sage, and Viking: “All were private companies at the time of the Ligand license and all subsequently became public off-lead programs licensed from Ligand. We are eager to watch Seelos progress.”

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