Ligand and Agenus Enter Into $100 Million Royalty Financing Agreement

JUPITER, Fla. and LEXINGTON, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: LGND) and Agenus Inc. (Nasdaq: AGEN), a leader in discovering and developing novel immunological agents to treat various cancers, today announced that the companies have entered into a royalty financing agreement to support Agenus’ key development initiatives in the ongoing BOT/BAL clinical development program, including its planned confirmatory Phase 3 trial in its lead indication of patients with metastatic, relapsed/refractory colorectal cancer not microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or deficient mismatch repair (dMMR), who are without active liver metastases (r/r MSS CRC NLM), along with other launch readiness activities. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Ligand will pay $75 million to Agenus at closing. In addition, Ligand has the option to invest an additional $25 million on the same terms on a pro rata basis. In return for the initial $75 million payment, Ligand will receive 18.75% of the future royalties and 31.875% of the future milestone payments related to six of Agenus’ clinical-stage partnered oncology programs, including BMS-986442 (Bristol Myers Squibb), AGEN2373 (Gilead Sciences), INCAGN2385 and INCAGN2390 (Incyte), MK-4830 (Merck), and UGN-301 (UroGen Pharma). Ligand’s portion of the milestones related to these six programs has the potential to exceed $400 million, with royalties in the low single digits. In addition, Ligand will also receive a 2.625% royalty on future global net sales generated by BOT/BAL. The royalties and milestone payments owed to Ligand could be adjusted up or down based upon pre-determined future events and achievements of certain milestones.

“This partnership with Agenus gives us an interest in multiple oncology products diversified across targets and indications, including royalties on BOT/BAL and several partnered oncology programs being developed by experienced biopharmaceutical companies,” commented Todd Davis, CEO of Ligand. “We are encouraged by Agenus’ progress to move BOT/BAL forward in the metastatic, relapsed/refractory colorectal cancer setting, in addition to other major indications, including pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma. This demonstrates the potential value BOT/BAL could deliver to patients, as well as the significant revenue potential of this broad and highly differentiated program. Our seasoned investment team spent significant time and effort conducting diligence on each of these unique and valuable assets.”

As part of the agreement, the companies have also agreed to allow Agenus to syndicate up to an additional $125 million, potentially bringing the total capital infusion up to $200 million. This strategic collaboration will further validate BOT/BAL’s potential as a transformative treatment for patients with solid tumor malignancies and enhances Agenus’ ability to advance this promising therapy.

Garo Armen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Agenus, commented, “We are pleased to partner with Ligand, a company that recognizes the paradigm-shifting potential of BOT/BAL in delivering benefit to patients across the solid tumor landscape. Ligand also recognizes the potential impact of our ongoing partnered programs, many of which are showing promise in the clinic. This collaboration enables both parties to benefit in the future potential success of these assets while simultaneously enabling Agenus to accelerate our efforts to bring BOT/BAL to patients in need.”

Over 900 patients have been treated with BOT/BAL in clinical trials across nine different difficult to treat solid tumor cancers. The novel therapeutic regimen has demonstrated the potential to be combined with chemotherapy and other standard of care therapies, and as an immunotherapy-only combo in CRC, one of the most prevalent solid tumors globally. In April 2023, Agenus was granted Fast Track Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the investigation of the BOT/BAL combination in patients with r/r MSS CRC NLM. Patients targeted with this designation are heavily pretreated with standard of care chemotherapy, anti-VEGF and anti-EGFR if RAS wild type.

About Agenus

Agenus is a leading immuno-oncology company targeting cancer and infectious diseases with a comprehensive pipeline of immunological agents. The company’s mission is to expand patient populations benefiting from cancer immunotherapy through combination approaches, using a broad repertoire of antibody therapeutics, adoptive cell therapies (through MiNK Therapeutics) and adjuvants (through SaponiQx). Agenus is headquartered in Lexington, MA. For more information, visit or @agenus_bio. Information that may be important to investors will be routinely posted on Agenus’ website and social media channels.

About Botensilimab

Botensilimab is an investigational multifunctional anti-CTLA-4 immune activator (antibody) designed to boost both innate and adaptive anti-tumor immune responses. Its novel design leverages mechanisms of action to extend immunotherapy benefits to “cold” tumors which generally respond poorly to standard of care or are refractory to conventional PD-1/CTLA-4 therapies and investigational therapies. Botensilimab augments immune responses across a wide range of tumor types by priming and activating T cells, downregulating intratumoral regulatory T cells, activating myeloid cells and inducing long-term memory responses.

Over 900 patients have been treated with botensilimab in phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials. Botensilimab alone, or in combination with Agenus’ investigational PD-1 antibody, balstilimab, has shown clinical responses across nine metastatic, late-line cancers. For more information about botensilimab trials, visit with the identifiers NCT03860272, NCT05608044, NCT05630183, and NCT05529316.