Ligand Licenses VER250840 to Cumulus Oncology

SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ: LGND) today
announced the signing of a license agreement granting Cumulus Oncology
exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize VER250840, a
novel, oral, selective, preclinical Chk1 Kinase Inhibitor discovered
using Ligand’s Vernalis Design Platform (VDP). Under the terms of the
agreement, Ligand will receive an upfront license fee, and is eligible
to receive over $76 million of milestone payments and tiered royalties
in the mid-to-high single digit range, depending on revenue. In
addition, Ligand is eligible to receive an additional fee, payable in
cash or Cumulus equity, upon Cumulus achieving specified
financing-related events.

“We are pleased to be partnered with Cumulus to continue to advance the
development of this important kinase target,” said John Higgins, Chief
Executive Officer of Ligand. “Since Ligand’s acquisition of Vernalis in
October of last year, the business in Cambridge has been successfully
integrated and is significantly contributing to the advancement of
Ligand’s Shots-on-Goal business model. VDP consists of a team of
accomplished scientists servicing the needs of partners to design
molecules addressing highly-challenging targets, and we expect
additional partnered programs to result from their efforts over the
coming months and years.”

About VER250840

VER250840 is a novel oral, selective Chk1 kinase inhibitor discovered
using the Vernalis Design Platform (VDP). Chk1 is an important target
within the DNA Damage Response (DDR) network and has been shown to play
a key role in maintaining genomic integrity of cancer cells. Inhibition
of Chk1 blocks cell cycle arrest and DNA repair, forcing cancer cells to
undergo cell division with substantial DNA damage that results in their
death. In both in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies,
VER250840 has demonstrated an ability to target Chk1 in a range of
different tumor types, as a single agent and in combination with several
different cytotoxic agents. The clinical utility of DDR inhibitors for
the treatment of cancer has recently been validated by the approval of
inhibitors of Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). The opportunity to
select patients most likely to respond to Chk1 inhibitors exists.

About the Vernalis Design Platform (VDP)

Vernalis (R&D) Limited is a Ligand subsidiary based in Cambridge, UK,
and is a world leader in structure-guided drug discovery. The Vernalis
Design Platform (VDP) integrates protein structure determination and
engineering, fragment screening and molecular modeling, with medicinal
chemistry, to enable success in novel drug discovery programs against
highly-challenging targets. A key element to the success of VDP is
establishing a robust platform for drug discovery for each target to
validate hit identification using multiple proprietary assay and
biophysical systems. Vernalis has collaborations across many therapeutic
areas, including oncology, CNS, anti-infectives and inflammation, with
global partners and a heritage of successful internal drug discovery in
oncology and anti-infectives.

About Cumulus Oncology

Cumulus Oncology Ltd (Edinburgh, UK) identifies, evaluates and where
appropriate in-licenses novel oncology assets where future value
inflections are foreseen. The licensing agreement for VER250840 comes
after a rigorous due diligence conducted by the Cumulus Oncology team.
This encompassed an in-depth analysis of the existing data package and
an evaluation of future clinical development options in
molecularly-selected groups of patients, showing specific DNA repair
aberrations. Cumulus Oncology will partner with DNA repair specialist,
LXRepair (Grenoble, France) and AI specialist, Intelligent Omics
(Nottingham, UK) to define the optimal clinical setting for VER250840.

About Ligand Pharmaceuticals

Ligand is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing or acquiring
technologies that help pharmaceutical companies discover and develop
medicines. Our business model creates value for stockholders by
providing a diversified portfolio of biotech and pharmaceutical product
revenue streams that are supported by an efficient and low corporate
cost structure. Our goal is to offer investors an opportunity to
participate in the promise of the biotech industry in a profitable,
diversified and lower-risk business than a typical biotech company. Our
business model is based on doing what we do best: drug discovery,
early-stage drug development, product reformulation and partnering. We
partner with other pharmaceutical companies to leverage what they do
best (late-stage development, regulatory management and
commercialization) to ultimately generate our revenue. Ligand’s Captisol®
platform technology is a patent-protected, chemically modified
cyclodextrin with a structure designed to optimize the solubility and
stability of drugs. OmniAb® is a patent-protected transgenic
animal platform used in the discovery of fully human mono- and
bispecific therapeutic antibodies. The Vernalis Design Platform (VDP)
integrates protein structure determination and engineering, fragment
screening and molecular modelling, with medicinal chemistry, to enable
success in novel drug discovery programs against highly-challenging
targets. Ligand has established multiple alliances, licenses and other
business relationships with the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies
including Amgen, Merck, Pfizer, Gilead, Janssen, Baxter International
and Eli Lilly.

Follow Ligand on Twitter @Ligand_LGND.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements by Ligand that
involve risks and uncertainties and reflect Ligand’s judgment as of the
date of this report. These forward-looking statements include comments
regarding Cumulus Oncology’s preclinical and clinical development
program for VER250840; the potential for VER250840 to complete
preclinical studies and launch a clinical program; the potential for
future regulatory and commercial milestones and royalties from net sales
of VER250840, if approved, as well as future fee payments; Ligand’s
expectations that it will not incur additional cash expenses in
connection with the development or commercialization of VER250840; the
possibility that VER250840 could be part of a quality-of-life-enhancing
treatment category; the importance of CHK1 kinase inhibitors to the DDR
network or its role in maintaining genomic integrity of cancer cells;
and Ligand’s expectations that the VDP and Vernalis team will
successfully support additional portfolio partners or enter into
additional program partnerships. Actual events or results may differ
from Ligand’s expectations. For example, the development of VER250840 is
entirely dependent on Cumulus’ success and Ligand will have no ability
to direct the development program; VER250840 could fail to meet
satisfactory milestones during preclinical development; if the asset
enters phase I clinical evaluation, it could fail to reach its primary
endpoints or show sufficient safety or efficacy to continue in further
development; and Ligand may not be successful in identifying additional
product candidates using the VDP or successfully partnering any such
product candidates. Many of these risks also apply to the other programs
which comprise Ligand’s shots-on-goal portfolio. The failure to meet
expectations with respect to any of the foregoing matters may reduce
Ligand’s stock price. Additional information concerning these and other
important risk factors affecting Ligand (including Ligand’s current
reliance on revenues based on sales of Kyprolis®, and various
risks to which Ligand’s Captisol® cyclodextrin operations are
subject) can be found in Ligand’s prior press releases and its periodic
filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (including its Form
10-K filed on February 28, 2019), available at,
as updated by subsequent periodic reports filed with the Securities and
Exchange Commission. Ligand disclaims any intent or obligation to update
these forward-looking statements beyond the date of this report. This
caution is made under the safe harbor provisions of the Private
Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.


Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
Todd Pettingill

Bruce Voss

Cumulus Oncology Ltd
Clare Wareing, PhD
Founder and CEO

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