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Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ: LGND) announces receipt of a $1.4 million milestone payment from Retrophin, Inc. (OTCQB: RTRX) under the terms of a license agreement signed in February 2012 for the development and commercialization of Retrophin’s lead clinical candidate RE-021. Ligand will remit $210,000 to Bristol-Myers Squibb under the terms of a previous license agreement for RE-021. Ligand is entitled to milestones and royalties on the successful future development and commercialization of RE-021 under this agreement.
RE-021 is in development for the treatment of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering system (glomeruli), causing serious scarring, kidney degeneration and ultimately loss in kidney function. An estimated 50,000 patients in the United States suffer from FSGS, with most patients diagnosed as children or young adults. Retrophin has announced that it expects to begin enrollment in a Phase 2 clinical trial known as “FONT-3” during the first half of 2013.
“We are impressed with Retrophin’s continued business successes and look forward to the initiation of the Phase 2 trial of RE-021,” commented John Higgins, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ligand. “FSGS is an orphan disease with significant, unmet medical need and no currently approved therapies. We believe that RE-021 has a very compelling therapeutic profile and that under Retrophin’s stewardship, it has the potential to become an important treatment.”
Ligand acquired RE-021 in its acquisition of Pharmacopeia in December 2008. RE-021 was formerly known as DARA (a Dual Acting Receptor Antagonist of Angiotensin and Endothelin) and possesses two clinically validated mechanisms of action that selectively block two potent vasoconstrictor and mitogenic agents, angiotensin II and endothelin 1, at their respective receptors.
Retrophin is a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of orphan drugs for the treatment of rare and life-threatening diseases for which there are currently no viable options. The company is currently focused on several catastrophic diseases that primarily affect children, including FSGS, Pantothenate Kinase-Associated Neurodegeneration (PKAN), Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and others. Retrophin’s lead compound, RE-021, is scheduled to begin enrollment in a potentially pivotal Phase 2 clinical trial for FSGS during the first half of 2013.