Ligand Pharmaceuticals has signed a licensing deal with CURx Pharmaceuticals to develop and commercialise its Captisol-enabled topiramate injection to treat partial onset or primary generalised tonic-clonic seizures in hospitalised epilepsy patients.

Under the deal, Ligand is eligible for more than $21m in potential net milestone payments and net royalties on future sales of 6% to 7.5%.

Ligand president and chief executive officer John Higgins said the deal pairs its proven formulation agent with an approved medicine to create a potentially novel, and differentiated drug.

"We are very pleased to be entering this agreement. CURx is highly motivated to advance development with current plans calling for a Phase II trial to commence in 2014," Higgins added.

The Captisol-enabled formulation of Topiramate Injection was designed for the treatment of partial onset or primary generalised tonic-clonic seizures in hospitalised epilepsy patients who are unable to take oral topiramate.

Initially developed at, and exclusively licensed from, the University of Minnesota, the Captisol-enabled formulation of Topiramate Injection provides an intravenous or intramuscular option for hospitalised epilepsy patients unable to use oral topiramate, and has been studied in Phase I trials.

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Janssen Pharmaceuticals sold Topiramate under the trade name Topamax and is presently available in oral formulations.

CURx chief executive officer and founder Dinu Sen said, "In Phase I trials in healthy volunteers and patients at the University of Minnesota, the product demonstrated a faster onset of action than the orally administered drug."

Invented and initially developed at the University of Kansas’ Higuchi Biosciences Center for specific use in drug development and formulation, Captisol is a chemically modified cyclodextrin with a structure designed to optimise the solubility and stability of drugs.