Ligand Announces Multi-Program LTP Technology Licensing Agreement with Nucorion Pharmaceuticals

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated has announced the signing of a license agreement for three programs utilizing Ligand’s LTP (Liver Targeting Prodrug) technology with Nucorion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a venture-funded biotechnology company focused on developing anti-cancer and anti-viral agents initially directed to China.

  • Ligand’s LTP technology is a novel prodrug technology platform designed to selectively deliver a range of active pharmaceutical agents to the liver. By directly targeting the liver, the goal is to maximize efficacy and minimize off-target drug toxicities.
  • The preclinical programs under this license include: NUC-202, a targeted anti-cancer analog for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma; NUC-404, a targeted nucleotide analog for the treatment of hepatitis B; and NUC-101, a targeted nucleotide analog for the treatment of hepatitis C.
  • Ligand is eligible to receive milestone payments as well as royalties ranging from 5% to 9% on net sales of products developed by Nucorion under this agreement.
  • Ligand was a co-founder of Nucorion along with Dr. Zucai Suo, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at The Ohio State University and a recognized academic leader in the fields of nucleic acid enzymology, viral replication and rational drug design.
  • Nucorion was funded with $5 million in a Series A funding round led by Silver River International Investment Ltd. Ligand invested $1 million in the venture financing.

“LTP is a promising technology platform developed by Ligand with applicability in a range of hepatic and hepatic-mediated indications. Given the increased focus on liver-related health by drug companies and the substantial medical need in China for liver-related medicines, we are pleased to participate in this new venture and be partners with highly respected Chinese venture investors affiliated with multi-billion dollar funds,” said John Higgins, Chief Executive Officer of Ligand. “Along with Captisol® and OmniAb®, LTP has the potential to contribute to the growth of Ligand’s portfolio and technology offerings.”

James Gu, Partner at Silver River, stated, “The LTP technology is especially well-suited for pursuing these diseases in China. Liver disease is a growing and major cause of death in China. The LTP technology targets the liver and creates a key differentiating factor for Nucorion and provides us with a promising product pipeline.”


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