US-based Ligand Pharmaceuticals has signed an exclusive global licence agreement with TG Therapeutics to develop and commercialise Ligand’s interleukin-1 receptor associated kinase-4 (IRAK-4) inhibitors.
Under the agreement, Ligand Pharmaceuticals will receive approximately $1m of TG Therapeutics common stock at the time of signing and will be eligible for $207m in milestones.
In addition, Ligand Pharmaceuticals is eligible to receive tiered royalties of 6%-9.5% on future net sales of licensed products containing patented IRAK-4 inhibitors.
Ligand Pharmaceuticals president and CEO John Higgins said: “TG Therapeutics has a proven ability in transitioning preclinical compounds into best-in-class clinical programmes and IRAK-4 is an ideal complement to their two clinical-stage hematology products, namely TG-1101, or ublituximab, and TGR-1202, a PI3K delta inhibitor.
“Given the evolution of these areas of research, there may be opportunities for treatment synergies between IRAK-4 inhibitors and these other programmes.”
IRAK-4, a serine/threonine protein kinase, is a key signalling component downstream of both toll-like receptors and interleukin-1 receptor suggesting that it may have therapeutic value for a range of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.
According to Ligand Pharmaceuticals, recent pre-clinical studies suggest a potential that IRAK-4 plays an important role in certain b-cell lymphomas.
The company has identified orally available small molecule inhibitors of IRAK4, which are under investigation for use in cancer and autoimmune diseases.
The rights to the IRAK-4 programme were originally acquired by Ligand Pharmaceuticals at a discovery stage through the acquisition of Pharmacopeia in 2008.