News information

HitGen to acquire Vernalis, a leader in structure-based drug discovery

Release Time:2020-10-12    Information Sources:HitGen

CHENGDU, CHINA - HITGEN (688222.SH) announces it has entered into a definitive agreement with Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: LGND) to acquire Vernalis (R&D) Limited, Cambridge, UK-based world leaders in fragment and structure-based drug discovery research. The acquisition is for the entire issued share capital of Vernalis (R&D) Limited, for $25M in cash. The closing of this transaction is subject to customary conditions and approvals, expected to complete before the end of 2020.


Vernalis combines excellence in protein science and structure determination, fragment screening and biophysics with medicinal chemistry leadership to enable novel drug discovery against highly challenging targets. They are a 80-person experienced research team, working out of fully equipped laboratories in Granta Park, Cambridge.


Strong synergies between HitGen’s industry-leading DNA-encoded chemical libraries (DEL) platform and Vernalis’ deep expertise in fragment and structure-based approaches and medicinal chemistry will offer a full suite of early discovery capabilities for both internal programs and external collaborations. Vernalis has a robust record in achieving out-licencing of multiple drug discovery projects, with progression to clinical stages. Building upon existing platforms and proprietary technologies, this partnership promises exciting opportunities in advancing the next generation of DEL and its applications.


Coupling HitGen DELs containing over 500 billion small molecules, and a dedicated 100-person internal programs resource, with Vernalis’ extensive experience in progressing projects from concept to clinic, will empower joint discovery efforts against hard-to-drug targets, to develop innovative therapeutics of the future. It is envisaged that close collaboration between the teams and pioneering technologies can deliver meaningful value on a faster timescale to the combined NCE portfolio, available for licensing to partners.


Through this acquisition, HitGen will join the dynamic Cambridge biopharma cluster, bringing a wealth of business development, academic, and non-profit partnership opportunities, alongside serving as a platform for further investment and expansion in the United Kingdom and Europe.


Vernalis will continue to operate in Cambridge under the current management team, committed to maintaining and growing its impressive collection of collaborations with partners which currently include Asahi Kasei Pharma, Lundbeck, Servier and PhoreMost.


Dr Jin Li, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of HitGen commented:

I have long been impressed by the achievement, experience, and stability of the Vernalis team. This strategic acquisition represents HitGen’s continuing investment at the frontier of innovative drug discovery; establishing a more effective technology platform to address unmet clinical needs by developing better, faster, and smarter medicines. This passion is shared by Vernalis’ dedicated scientists, and I look forward to seeing HitGen and Vernalis teams thrive on the opportunities presented to deliver more high quality output, building the HitGen Group into a leading drug discovery organisation, and ultimately delivering greater value for collaboration partners and shareholders.


Dr Mike Wood, Managing Director of Vernalis (R&D) concluded:

Vernalis are looking forward to our new drug discovery relationship with HitGen and to continuing and expanding our independent collaborations.  We share the drive to deliver innovative medicines that are effective against unmet clinical needs. We are passionate about the quality of our science and see many opportunities to combine our technologies with HitGen’s to improve the drug discovery process.


Advisors

Deloitte China and CICC served as financial advisors, Cooley (UK) LLP and JunHe China LLP as legal advisor, and Deloitte China as tax advisor to HitGen in this transaction.


About HitGen Inc.

HitGen is a rapidly growing biotech company with headquarters in Chengdu, China, and a subsidiary in the USA. HitGen has established an industry-leading platform for early-stage drug discovery research, centred on DNA-encoded chemical libraries (DELs). HitGen’s DELs include encoded syntheses for hundreds of billions of novel, diverse, drug-like small molecule and macrocycle compounds. These compounds are members of DELs synthesized from many hundreds of distinct chemical scaffolds, designed and assembled with tractable chemistry based on proven results for identifying drug-like leads against biological targets from known and novel classes. HitGen is working with multiple pharmaceutical and biotech companies, foundations and research institutes in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia to discover and develop novel therapeutics of the future.


About Vernalis (R&D) Limited

Vernalis is a world-leading fragment and structure-based biotech company based in Cambridge, UK. Vernalis integrates fragment-based approaches, structural biology, assay technology and molecular modelling with extensive synthetic, organic and medicinal chemistry expertise to generate lead compounds and development candidates against targets in oncology, neurodegeneration, anti-infective and inflammation. Vernalis holds fully integrated research collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotech companies across Europe and Asia.


PR/IR Contact details

For media inquiries:media@hitgen.com 
       For investor inquiries:investors@hitgen.com
       For business development:bd@hitgen.com

For more information, please call +86-28-85197385 or visit www.hitgen.com.



Disclaimer

This press has been prepared by HitGen Inc. (the “Company”). The information contained in this press is intended for information purpose only and does not take your investment objectives, financial status, and special needs into consideration. This press does not constitute legal, regulatory, accounting tax or investment advice to you, or any form of financial opinion or recommendation by the Company or any other party at any time. We recommend that you seek independent third party legal, regulatory, accounting, tax, investment and/or financial advice regarding the contents of this press.


This press does not contain all relevant information relating to the Company or its securities, particularly with respect to the risks and special considerations involved with an investment in the securities of the Company. All relevant information relating to the Company should be subject to the information disclosed publicly by the Company. No securities of the Company may be sold in China without registration with China Securities Regulatory Commission (the “CSRC”) or an exemption from such registration. Any public offer of securities would be made pursuant to an effective registration statement and prospectus prepared by the Company that would contain material information not contained herein. Any offering of the securities of the Company to be made in China will be made solely on the basis of the information contained in the statutory prospectus included in a registration statement to be filed by the Company with the CSRC. If you invest in any securities of the Company, you should read such statutory prospectus and other documents that the Company may file with the CSRC.


In this press, may be cited statistics from the history of public release of the data or information. The information herein is preliminary and subject to change and its accuracy is not guaranteed. The information included herein was obtained from various sources, including certain third parties, and has not been independently verified. No repress, warranty or undertaking, express or implied, is made as to, and no reliance should be placed on, the fairness, accuracy, completeness, timeliness, appropriateness or correctness of the information contained herein. None of the Company or any of its affiliates, shareholders, directors, employees, agents, advisors or representatives will be liable for any loss howsoever arising from any use of this press or its contents or otherwise arising in connection with this press or its contents (including but not limited to negligent repress or omission).

Return