Ligand Pharma-TG Therapeutics Collaborate on IRAK4 Inhibitors

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Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. (LGND) inked a deal with TG Therapeutics, Inc. (TGTX) to develop and commercialize Ligand’s Interleukin-1 Receptor Associated Kinase-4 (IRAK-4) inhibitors. Ligand Pharma is currently developing IRAK4 inhibitors for the treatment of certain forms of cancer and autoimmune diseases. The IRAK4 program is in pre-clinical development.

According to the deal, Ligand Pharma will receive 125,000 unregistered shares of TG Therapeutics’ common stock, valued at about $1 million on the date of signing the deal. Additionally, the company will receive $207 million on the achievement of specific milestones and tiered royalties of 6%−9.5% on net sales of licensed products.

Ligand Pharma stated in its press release that the IRAK4 program complements TG Therapeutics’ hematological malignancy candidates, TG-1101 (ublituximab) and TGR-1202 (a PI3K delta inhibitor). If successfully developed, IRAK4 inhibitors will strongly benefit patients suffering from certain B-cell malignancies.

We are positive on the agreement between Ligand Pharma and TG Therapeutics. The agreement should be beneficial for Ligand Pharma since it gains a strong partner in the form of TG Therapeutics.

Ligand Pharma is working toward strengthening its pipeline and has inked quite a few deals in the last few months. In May 2014, Ligand Pharma signed a licensing and research deal with AstraZeneca (AZN) under which both companies will develop candidates utilizing Ligand Pharma’s LTP technology platform for the treatment of dyslipidemia, including hypertriglyceridemia. Late last month, Ligand Pharma licensed the rights to five programs to Viking Therapeutics.

Ligand Pharma holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in the biotech sector is Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB), carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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