Stock Update (NASDAQ:LJPC): La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company and Vanderbilt University Enter Exclusive Research and License Agreement Covering Novel BMP Type-I Receptor Inhibitors


La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company (NASDAQ:LJPC), a leader in the development of innovative therapies intended to significantly improve outcomes in patients suffering from life-threatening diseases, and Vanderbilt University (Vanderbilt) today announced an exclusive, worldwide research and license agreement covering Vanderbilt’s research program and intellectual property rights relating to small-molecule kinase inhibitors designed to selectively block specific members of the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) type-I receptor family.

The seven members of the BMP type-I receptor family, activin receptor-like kinase (ALK) 1-7, play critical roles in human development and physiology. In turn, the improper activation of these receptor pathways is responsible for a wide range of disease conditions. For example, fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), a rare genetic disorder where the body turns muscle into bone, is caused by a genetic mutation in ALK2 that results in excessive signaling of this pathway.

Members of the BMP type-I receptor family also are involved in other diseases such as acquired heterotopic ossification (formation of bone in soft tissue caused by injury or trauma), muscular dystrophies including Duchenne muscular dystrophy, anemia of chronic disease (decrease of red blood cells or hemoglobin from chronic infection, chronic immune activation and malignancy), cancer, cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory bowel disease.

After the first publication of his discovery in 2008, Charles C. Hong, M.D., Ph.D., in conjunction with Vanderbilt, has led a dedicated research team focused on discovering highly selective, small-molecule kinase inhibitors designed to selectively block specific members of the BMP type-I receptor family. Dr. Hong’s team is complemented by the robust medicinal chemistry expertise of Vanderbilt’s Craig W. Lindsley, Ph.D., and Corey R. Hopkins, Ph.D. Under the research and license agreement with La Jolla, La Jolla will fund further research under this program at Vanderbilt in return for rights to acquire compounds emerging from this program.

Dr. Hong is an Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, Pharmacology, and Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and a member of the Veterans Affairs Tennessee Valley Healthcare System. He is also a member of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology and the Vanderbilt Center for Stem Cell Biology. Dr. Hong discovered the first pharmacologic inhibitor of the BMP pathway in 2008, and he was instrumental in the discovery of the critical role of the BMP pathway in stem cell maturation, cholesterol homeostasis and cancer.

Dr. Lindsley is a Professor of Pharmacology and Chemistry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He is also the Director of Medicinal Chemistry at the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery and the Director of the Vanderbilt Specialized Chemistry Center for Accelerated Probe Development.

Dr. Hopkins is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Chemistry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He is also the Associate Director of Chemistry at the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery and a co-Director of the Vanderbilt Specialized Chemistry Center for Accelerated Probe Development.

“We are excited to see our work move forward from a basic research program to a therapeutic program in partnership with La Jolla. Together, we see this as an opportunity to position our BMP inhibitors as potential treatments for rare and neglected diseases,” said Drs. Hopkins and Lindsley on behalf of the Vanderbilt team.

“Tremendous credit goes to Dr. Hong for his discovery of BMP receptor inhibitors and Dr. Lindsley and Dr. Hopkins for their advancements in medicinal chemistry. Their breakthrough discoveries offer hope to improve the lives of patients suffering from a broad range of debilitating diseases,” said George F. Tidmarsh, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Office of La Jolla. “In collaboration with our innovative partners at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, we will work hard to translate their pioneering discoveries into novel treatments for patients in need.” (Original Source)

Shares of La Jolla Pharmaceutical opened today at $26.19 and are currently trading up at $26.7. LJPC has a 1-year high of $34.48 and a 1-year low of $7.20. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $29.00 and its 200-day moving average is $22.64.

On the ratings front, La Jolla Pharmaceutical has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on August 10, Chardan analyst Gbola Amusa MD CFA maintained a Buy rating on LJPC, with a price target of $60, which represents a potential upside of 129.1% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on May 11, H.C. Wainwright’s Reni Benjamin reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $20.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Gbola Amusa MD CFA and Reni Benjamin have a total average return of 8.4% and -1.4% respectively. CFA has a success rate of 54.9% and is ranked #889 out of 3738 analysts, while Benjamin has a success rate of 35.7% and is ranked #3080.

La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization oftherapies intended to significantly improve outcomes in patients suffering from life-threatening diseases.