Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Thursday that itlicensed a novel transcription factor technology fromRockefeller University that may be useful in developing drugsto control cellular gene expression.

Under the agreement, Ligand will get exclusive worldwiderights to any patents and other proprietary rights covering thetechnology.

Proteins related to the transcription factor transmit signalsfrom interferon receptors on the cell surface to the cell nucleus,bringing about specific changes in the pattern of gene activityin the cell and in how the cell functions.

Called RAFTS (receptor-activated factors of transcription), thetechnology offers the potential to develop small organicmolecules that can be administered orally to mimic or block theactions of the polypeptides alpha interferon and gammainterferon.

Possible therapeutic applications include cancer, inflammationand various infectious diseases.

"The RAFT technology is highly complementary to our coretechnology, and provide Ligand novel opportunities to discoverdrugs reprogramming gene expression," said Robert Stein,Ligand's vice president of research and preclinicaldevelopment.

San Diego-based Ligand's drug discovery program is focused onintracellular receptors (IRs), transcription factors activated bysmall organic hormones such as sex steroids, glucocorticoidsand retinoids. -- Michelle Slade

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