Pharma Focus Asia

Ligand Expands OmniAb® Antibody Discovery Platform Through the Acquisitions of xCella Biosciences and Taurus Biosciences

Friday, September 11, 2020

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated) announces the acquisition of two privately held companies that strengthen and complement its OmniAb® technology platform. Ligand acquired xCella Biosciences, Inc. for $7 million in cash plus potential earnouts, and acquired Taurus Biosciences LLC for $5 million in cash plus non-transferable contingent value rights (CVRs). In addition, Ligand will invest $2.5 million in a new company, Minotaur Therapeutics, which will be led by Taurus Biosciences’ founder, in exchange for royalties on products from future programs.

With the addition of these two companies, Ligand has secured a technology to further enhance its single B cell screening platform as well as technologies to discover and humanize antibodies from immunized cows or cow-derived libraries. The acquisitions are expected to enable Ligand to secure new license agreements with expanded economics as a result of the addition of tools and intellectual property that Ligand can now offer to partners. Ligand evaluated multiple public and private platforms to acquire in order to continue the expansion of the OmniAb platform and determined xCella and Taurus represented the best fit and opportunity.

“Bringing the capabilities and intellectual property of these two companies into Ligand will strengthen our antibody discovery capabilities, in particular our OmniChicken® platform. We are committed to keeping OmniAb at the cutting edge of antibody discovery and development, as exemplified by these deals and our acquisition of Ab Initio Biotherapeutics last year,” said John Higgins, Chief Executive Officer of Ligand. “During 2020 we have seen a number of major advancements by partners with OmniAb-discovered programs. We believe the next few years will further highlight the significance of the OmniAb platform to major drug programs and contribute substantially to our financial growth and performance.”

Ligand’s OmniAb antibody discovery platform has been formed via five strategic acquisitions of leading antibody discovery tools and intellectual property over the past several years, creating a best-in-class platform to serve a growing portfolio of partners, with:

  • Potential for two approvals of OmniAb-derived antibodies in 2021 with expected new royalty streams to Ligand;
  • More than 80 OmniAb-derived programs in Ligand’s diverse and growing portfolio of partnerships;
  • Approximately 50 completed or on-going clinical trials with OmniAb-derived antibodies;
  • Leading OmniAb-derived programs in clinical development with Janssen/J&J (Teclistamab), Genentech (Tiragolumab), Gloria Pharmaceuticals and Arcus/Gilead (Zimberelimab), CStone Pharmaceuticals (Sugemalimab), and Immunovant (IMVT-1401).
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