The agreement will allow iMetabolic to fully access Ligand’s OmniAb therapeutic antibody platform, which includes OmniRat, OmniMouse, OmniFlic and OmniChicken.

On Wednesday (November 21), Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:LGND) announced a new partnership with iMetabolic Biopharma.

The agreement will allow iMetabolic to fully access Ligand’s OmniAb therapeutic antibody platform, which includes the OmniRat, OmniMouse, OmniFlic and OmniChicken. These fully human antibody repertoires are optimized in vivo to manufacture the antibodies.

Ligand has already received an undisclosed upfront license payment and may receive up to six percent of future sales on the products discovered from this partnership. iMetabolic will use these platforms for its early drug discovery to treat obesity-related diseases.

John Higgins, CEO of Ligand, said this agreement represents the value and benefit of its multi-species genetically engineered OmniAb platforms. The platforms can help develop “diverse mono and bispecific fully human antibodies,” he said.

Ligand will take care of funding and facilitating early antibody discovery activities and receive an ownership position in iMetabolic in return. iMetabolic will be responsible for pre-clinical and clinical development costs and commercialization costs.

Dr. Urban Kieman, CEO of iMetabolic, shared similar sentiments to Higgins, adding early stage drug development partnerships such as this “are the driving force of innovation.”

The OmniRat was the first human monoclonal antibody technology based on rats. This, coupled with the OmniFlic — another engineered rat with fixed light chain — are the only engineered rats available for generating mono and bispecific human antibodies.

The OmniMouse and OmniChicken provide the largest epitope coverage for corresponding murine and avian systems. Each platform has the freedom to operate and enable a generation of antibodies specific to any target and globally. In total, all four products operate and deliver fully human antibodies with high affinity, specificity, expression, solubility and stability.

Over 30 biopharmaceutical companies and several universities have partnered with Ligand for unlimited use of these platforms. Many partnerships are with Big Pharma companies such as Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) and Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN).

From these partnerships, antibodies have been developed for hundreds of indications, with many in clinical development. Ligand acquired this technology in 2016.

Aside from owning this technology, Ligand boasts one of the biggest development portfolios due to the high amount of partnerships it’s engaged with. From these, assets the company credits itself to be diversified, profitable and lower-risk than other biotech companies.

iMetabolic is a privately owned early stage precision therapeutics company. As mentioned the company is developing drugs for obesity-related diseases. As these diseases can span quite far, the initial focus is on hyperlipidemia in the form of Familial Chylomicronemia Syndrome (FCS). A new area the company is exploring is lipid metabolism, through the company’s network of physicians and researchers.

Investor takeaway

Over the trading period on Wednesday, Ligand’s share price increased 1.76 percent to close at US$151.48.

According to TipRanks, the company is currently ranked as a “Strong Buy” based off four analyst ratings. Ligand’s share price has a low estimate of US$195 and high of US$300, based on these recommendations over a 12-month period. H.C. Wainwright analyst Joseph Pantginis reiterated his “Buy” position for the company on Monday (November 19) with a US$281 price target.

Investors can continue watching the company’s news for information on partnerships.

Don’t forget to follow@INN_LifeScience for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Gabrielle Lakusta, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.



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