January 19, 2018 — Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced initiation of a program to develop contrast agents with reduced renal toxicity. Through this new, internally-funded program, Ligand intends to advance products toward proof-of-concept, followed by selling or out-licensing them for further development and commercialization. The program will leverage Ligand’s patented Captisol technology, as well as data and intellectual property obtained through its acquisition of Verrow Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held Lenexa, Kansas-based medical invention company that Ligand acquired in January 2018 for $2 million in cash plus earnouts.
Ligand CEO John Higgins explained that contrast agents are an important component of the diagnostic imaging market, however they can be toxic and are known to cause kidney damage in some patients. He added that Captisol is a specialized cyclodextrin that plays a role in protecting kidneys from the damaging effects of these agents. Captisol-enabled (CE) iohexol, marketed as Omnipaque by GE Healthcare, has been shown to prevent nephrotoxicity by more than 50 percent in animal models.1
The company said the initial internal program is focused on a CE formulation of iohexol given the large global market, lack of alternatives and focused development path for use in the cardiovascular imaging setting. The initial CE-iohexol program will focus on partnering-enabling studies, with an estimated $6 million of program spend by Ligand over approximately three years.
For more information: www.ligand.com
1. Rowe ES, et al. Journal of Neuroimaging 2016; 26(5):511-8