Ligand Subsidiary Vernalis and PhoreMost Limited Announce Drug Discovery Collaboration for Novel Oncology Target

SAN DIEGO & CAMBRIDGE, England–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ: LGND) and PhoreMost Limited
today announced the signing of a research collaboration agreement
between Ligand’s subsidiary Vernalis and PhoreMost on an undisclosed
novel oncology target.

PhoreMost has identified and validated the target using its
next-generation SITESEEKER® phenotypic
screening technology. Ligand will now apply its Vernalis Design Platform
(VDP) to design small molecule inhibitors against the target, to help
rapidly progress compounds through hit-to-lead and lead optimization
stages. The objective of the collaboration is to out-license the
resulting compounds for further development. Under the terms of the
agreement, Vernalis and PhoreMost will share downstream revenues of any
future out-licenses. Based on Ligand’s contribution and stage of
development at the time of licensing, Ligand will be entitled to a
scaling interest in license economics based on development stage.

“This collaboration with PhoreMost on a novel oncology target has the
potential to generate highly valuable new drug candidates. This is
another demonstration of the successful integration of Vernalis since
its acquisition by Ligand in October of last year,” said John Higgins,
Chief Executive Officer of Ligand.

“We are excited to be joining forces with Vernalis, whose impressive
track record of developing first-in-class drugs is highly complementary
to our core SITESEEKER platform. SITESEEKER systematically opens up new
druggable space across the entire human proteome, rapidly identifying
sites in specific disease driving targets that can’t be readily seen
using conventional methods,” said Chris Torrance, Chief Executive
Officer of PhoreMost.

About the Vernalis Design Platform (VDP)

Vernalis R&D Limited is a Ligand subsidiary based in Cambridge, UK, and
is a world leader in structure-guided drug discovery. The Vernalis
Design Platform (VDP) integrates protein structure determination and
engineering, fragment screening and molecular modeling, with medicinal
chemistry, to enable success in novel drug discovery programs against
highly-challenging targets. A key element to the success of VDP is
establishing a robust platform for drug discovery for each target to
validate hit identification using multiple proprietary assay and
biophysical systems. Vernalis has collaborations across many therapeutic
areas, including oncology, CNS, anti-infectives and inflammation, with
global partners and a heritage of successful internal drug discovery in
oncology and anti-infectives.

About PhoreMost Ltd

PhoreMost has developed a next-generation phenotypic screening platform
called SITESEEKER® that can discern the best new targets for
future therapy and crucially, how to drug them, which has the potential
to significantly increase the diversity and affordability of novel
therapeutics for cancer and other unmet diseases. Based on the Company’s
core proprietary ‘Protein Interference’ technology, SITESEEKER®
systematically unmasks cryptic druggable sites across the entire human
genome and directly links them to useful therapeutic functions in a
live-cell context. Using this platform, PhoreMost is building a pipeline
of novel drug discovery programmes aimed at addressing a range of unmet

About Ligand Pharmaceuticals

Ligand is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing or acquiring
technologies that help pharmaceutical companies discover and develop
medicines. Our business model creates value for stockholders by
providing a diversified portfolio of biotech and pharmaceutical product
revenue streams that are supported by an efficient and low corporate
cost structure. Our goal is to offer investors an opportunity to
participate in the promise of the biotech industry in a profitable,
diversified and lower-risk business than a typical biotech company. Our
business model is based on doing what we do best: drug discovery,
early-stage drug development, product reformulation and partnering. We
partner with other pharmaceutical companies to leverage what they do
best (late-stage development, regulatory management and
commercialization) to ultimately generate our revenue. Ligand’s
Captisol® platform technology is a patent-protected, chemically modified
cyclodextrin with a structure designed to optimize the solubility and
stability of drugs. OmniAb® is a patent-protected transgenic animal
platform used in the discovery of fully human mono- and bispecific
therapeutic antibodies. The Vernalis Design Platform (VDP) integrates
protein structure determination and engineering, fragment screening and
molecular modelling, with medicinal chemistry, to enable success in
novel drug discovery programs against highly-challenging targets. Ligand
has established multiple alliances, licenses and other business
relationships with the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies
including Amgen, Merck, Pfizer, Gilead, Janssen, Baxter International
and Eli Lilly. Follow Ligand on Twitter @Ligand_LGND.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements by Ligand that
involve risks and uncertainties and reflect Ligand’s judgment as of the
date of this release. These forward-looking statements include comments
regarding the plans of Vernalis and PhoreMost to identify and validate
compounds as potential drug candidates; Vernalis’ intentions to
out-licensing any compounds identified in collaboration with PhoreMost;
and the potential for economic returns based on any out-licenses to
third parties. Actual events or results may differ from Ligand’s and
Vernalis’ expectations. For example, the collaboration with PhoreMost
may not discover or validate compounds which support further
development; it may take more time or resources to identify or validate
compounds using the SITESEEKER or VDP platforms than Vernalis or
PhoreMost expect; and Vernalis and PhoreMost may not be successful in
identifying out-license partners or entering into license agreements on
favorable terms, if at all. Many of these risks also apply to the other
programs which comprise Ligand’s shots-on-goal portfolio. The failure to
meet expectations with respect to any of the foregoing matters may
reduce Ligand’s stock price. Additional information concerning these and
other important risk factors affecting Ligand (including Ligand’s
current reliance on revenues based on sales of Kyprolis®, and various
risks to which Ligand’s Captisol® cyclodextrin operations are subject)
can be found in Ligand’s prior press releases and its periodic filings
with the Securities and Exchange Commission (including its most recent
annual report on Form 10-K and subsequent quarterly reports on Form
10-Q), available at,
as updated by future period reports filed with the Securities and
Exchange Commission. Ligand disclaims any intent or obligation to update
these forward-looking statements beyond the date of this report. This
caution is made under the safe harbor provisions of the Private
Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.


Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
Todd Pettingill

Bruce Voss

For PhoreMost Ltd
Katie Odgaard
Zyme Communications
(0)7787 502 947