Ligand Pharmaceuticals announces the signing of an agreement whereby Ligand will acquire the core assets of Icagen, Inc.’s North Carolina operations, including partnered programs, proprietary ion channel screening and assay platforms, x-ray fluorescence capabilities, custom screening technologies and novel unpartnered preclinical-stage molecules for $15 million in cash. Icagen will also be entitled to receive up to an additional $25 million of cash payments based on certain revenue achievements.
The acquired assets include Icagen’s partnered programs with Roche focused on neurological diseases, and with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) focused on cystic fibrosis. Ligand is also acquiring six Icagen preclinical-stage internal programs targeting diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, pain and other disorders.
“This is an ideal transaction for Ligand, providing a valuable technology platform with high-value partnerships within a cash-flow positive and profitable business. Icagen has built deep expertise focused on ion channels and transporters to support target identification and evaluation, and has an established track record in ion channel drug discovery from screening to lead optimization,” said John Higgins, Chief Executive Officer of Ligand.
“We expect these capabilities will be synergistic across multiple technology platforms at Ligand, particularly with Vernalis and in novel OmniAb antibody discovery targeting ion channels and transporters. We are very pleased with how 2020 is starting, and we look forward to delivering more opportunities with investment in our business and further acquisitions.”
Richard Cunningham, Chief Executive Officer of Icagen, commented, “I am excited that Ligand will be continuing to advance the progress Icagen has made with our technologies, and am proud of our entire team’s accomplishments to date. In addition to the expertise in ion channel drug discovery, the expertise that Ligand is acquiring from Icagen in medicinal chemistry, in silico and computational chemistry will complement and expand the drug-discovery efforts currently ongoing at Ligand.”
This transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including a vote of Icagen stockholders, and is expected to close in April 2020.
Including this acquisition, Ligand now expects 2020 total revenues to be $128 million, up from $121 million projected previously. This new guidance assumes approximately $7 million of revenue from the Icagen business in 2020. In 2020, adjusted earnings per diluted share is now projected to be $3.45, up from $3.40 previously.
The contribution of the acquired Icagen assets and business to Ligand is currently expected to increase in 2021, with revenues of approximately $12 million and adjusted earnings per diluted share of approximately $0.25.
Icagen is an early stage drug discovery company focused on neuroscience and rare diseases with research facilities located in Durham, NC and Oro Valley (Tucson), AZ. Icagen partners with the pharmaceutical industry to develop first-in-class therapies for patients in need whereby Icagen assists with the drug discovery and its partners fund the clinical development and commercialization.
In December 2018, Icagen entered into collaboration with Roche to develop and commercialize therapies for neurological diseases. The collaboration included an initial program utilizing Icagen’s proprietary drug discovery platform. Under the terms of the agreement, Roche made a cash upfront payment and provides research funding to Icagen.
In addition, Icagen is eligible to receive development and commercial milestone payments of up to $274 million, and royalty payments should a drug be commercialized. Icagen is responsible for all preclinical activities up to lead optimization, with both Icagen and Roche applying resources to identify candidates for entry into IND-enabling studies. Roche will be responsible for the further development and commercialization of the program.
Source: Company Press Release