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LEO Pharma exercises option with HitGen to license compounds for development of novel class of drugs in dermatology

Ballerup, DENMARK and Chengdu, CHINA, November 12, 2019 – LEO Pharma A/S and HitGen Inc. are pleased to announce that HitGen and LEO Pharma expands their collaboration with a license to develop a novel class of drugs for a dermatology indication.

The licensed compounds were identified using HitGen’s leading technology platform, which involved screening DNA encoded libraries (DEL), containing over 400 billion small molecules with drug-like properties, synthesized on a broad range of structurally diverse scaffolds. A number of novel small molecule leads for an undisclosed target nominated by LEO Pharma are subject of this license.


Under the terms of the collaboration agreement, HitGen will grant exclusive rights to LEO Pharma to develop and commercialize the licensed compounds. HitGen will be eligible for preclinical and clinical milestone payments from LEO Pharma as the project progresses, in addition to an option exercise fee.


Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in the long lasting partnership between LEO Pharma and HitGen originally initiated in 2015.


“We are delighted to announce this license with LEO Pharma. The success of delivery of these licensed compounds has further demonstrated the power of our DEL platform to discover novel small molecules against a variety of targets, including those previously deemed challenging for small molecule modalities. In this case that target may be characterized as a “protein-protein interaction”, a class that has proved “hard-to-drug” for small molecule discovery. The current achievement marks the continued progress and success of the discovery collaboration between the companies, spanning a range of discovery programs. We look forward to announcing future milestones as the programs progress.” said Dr. Jin Li, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of HitGen.


To date HitGen has initiated screening efforts on multiple LEO Pharma discovery programs related to dermatology. These programs are at various stages of screening, selection, synthesis and validation.


“It is with great pleasure that we expand our collaboration with HitGen to further accelerate LEO Pharma’s ambition to discover promising lead compounds against challenging drug targets in dermatology. This license marks a successful discovery of a promising compound series targeting a novel “protein-protein interaction” and is yet another important milestone in our dedicated efforts to discover and develop oral first-in-class drugs. LEO Pharma is committed to making pioneering advances in dermatology research and to bringing new treatments to patients faster,” said Dr. Thorsten Thormann, Vice President of Global Research at LEO Pharma.


The financial terms of the license are not disclosed.

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Maia Fredtoft Soechting

Global External Communication
Tel: +45 2681 4579