San Diego’s life sciences companies didn’t tap their brakes much as December chugged along. This week—for many, the last full work week before a holiday break—has been peppered with financings and deals news. So while it might be nearly time to board your plane (or hop in the car, or simply spend a little time away from your screens), first catch up on recent local biotech happenings. Then, enjoy what remains of 2018.
—Ionis Pharmaceuticals said Thursday that the company’s founder and CEO Stan Crooke plans to leave his current role and transition to executive chairman of Ionis’ board of directors in January of 2020. Brett Monia, also a member of the Ionis (NASDAQ: IONS) founding team, will become CEO, the company said. Monia became Ionis’s chief operating officer in January. Previously, he was the company’s head of drug discovery. Ionis develops RNA drugs for a variety of neurological disorders with few treatment options available. Its drug for spinal muscular atrophy, nusinersen (Spinraza), was the first treatment approved for the disease.
—Ligand Pharmaceuticals said Monday it had acquired the rights to Palvella Therapeutics’s experimental topical treatment for pachyonychia congenita, a rare skin disorder. San Diego’s Ligand (NASDAQ: LGND) agreed to pay $10 million to Palvella, a biopharmaceutical company based in Wayne, PA, in exchange for tiered royalties in the mid-to-upper single digits on net sales, plus regulatory and financing milestones. The drug candidate, PTX-022, is in Phase 2/3 development. Ligand CEO John Higgins said if the Palvella drug’s development is successful and it is approved by the FDA, the treatment could launch commercially in 2022.
Ligand won’t be doing the development and commercialization work itself: The company generates revenue by licensing its drug development platforms and making royalty deals with other companies. Separately, on Tuesday, Ligand said it expects its revenue in 2019 to be at least $212 million, two-thirds from royalty revenue and the remainder from contract payments and material sales. Ligand said it has the potential to tack on up to $40 million more from potential milestone and license payments.