Ligand expands antibody discovery capabilities with acquisitions

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

September 10, 2020 -- Ligand Pharmaceuticals has acquired xCella Biosciences and Taurus Biosciences to strengthen its OmniAb technology platform for antibody discovery.

Ligand acquired xCella for $7 million in cash plus potential earnouts, and Taurus for $5 million in cash plus nontransferable contingent value rights. Additionally, Ligand will invest $2.5 million in a new company, Minotaur Therapeutics, which will be led by Taurus Biosciences' founder, in exchange for royalties on products from future programs.

These investments will enable the company to further enhance its single B-cell screening platforms and technologies to discover and humanize antibodies from immunized cows or cow-derived libraries. The acquisitions are also expected to enable the company to secure new license agreements for tools and intellectual property that it can offer to partners.

The OmniAb platform was developed through five strategic acquisitions of leading antibody discovery tools and intellectual property in the last several years. OmniAb is a three-species transgenic-animal platform consisting of five different technologies used for producing mono- and bispecific human therapeutic antibodies.

The platform has generated over 80 OmniAb-derived programs resulting in approximately 50 completed or ongoing clinical trials, with two expected approvals for OmniAb-derived antibodies in 2021, according to the firm.

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