Ligand Pharmaceuticals has entered into a licensing agreement and research collaboration with Omthera Pharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca, for the development of products to treat dyslipidemia, including hypertriglyceridemia.

As part of the agreement, Ligand will be eligible to receive payments of up to $44.5 million upon the achievement of specific milestones, as well as tiered royalties ranging from mid to high single digits of net sales.

The research collaboration will target the development of products that utilize the Ligand-developed LTP Technology™ to improve lipid-lowering activity of certain omega-3 fatty acids. Omthera is solely responsible for all research and clinical development costs as well as commercialization of any products derived from the collaboration.

According to Ligand, LTP Technology is a broadened prodrug technology platform designed to selectively deliver a range of active pharmaceutical agents to the liver. It works by chemically modifying a biologically active molecule into an inactive prodrug form that will be administered and later activated in the liver by certain enzymes.

The technology can be used to improve activity and/or safety of an existing drug or to develop new agents to treat liver diseases or diseases caused by homeostasis imbalance of circulating biomolecules controlled by the liver such as lipids and glucose, and is especially applicable to metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, the company said.

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