ADC from A to Z

ImmunoGen and Lilly in $200 million-plus deal for antibody drug conjugates

Amy Swinderman
WALTHAM, Mass.—At the end of December, Eli Lilly & Co.entered into a collaboration agreement with anticancer therapy developerImmunoGen that gives the pharma access to ImmunoGen's antibody drug conjugate(ADC) technology, a partnership expected to advance the pursuit of targetedtherapies for cancer patients.
 
Under the agreement, Lilly will pay an upfront fee of $20million for rights to take a limited number of exclusive licenses to useImmunoGen's maytansinoid Targeted Antibody Payload (TAP) technology with Lillymonoclonal antibodies to develop novel ADC anticancer therapeutics. Eachlicense taken entitles ImmunoGen to receive milestone payments potentiallytotaling approximately $200 million and also royalties on the sales of anyresulting products. ImmunoGen is also entitled to receive financialcompensation for any research and/or manufacturing done on behalf of Lilly.Lilly will bear responsibility for the development, manufacturing and marketingof any products resulting from the agreement. 
 
According to many researchers, ADCs are poised to delivermuch-needed targeted therapies for cancer. ADCs consist of an antibody linkedto a payload drug. The antibody causes the ADC to bind to the target cancercells. Often the ADC is then internalized by the cell, and the drug is releasedto do its damage. Because of such targeting, it is hoped that side effects willbe lower, and researchers will be given a wider therapeutic window.
 
 
ImmunoGen has developed specialized cancer cell-killingagents to serve as payloads to be attached to tumor-targeting antibodies fortargeted delivery to tumor cells.
 
ImmunoGen is using its TAP technology to develop compounds,both through its own pipeline and those of its partners. ImmunoGen's leadcompound, trastuzumab emtansine, is in advanced clinical testing by Genentechand Roche. The company also has two other compounds in development,lorvotuzumab mertansine (IMGN901) for CD56+ solid tumors and multiple myelomaand SAR3419 for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. According to the company, clinical datahave been published on more anticancer compounds made with its technology, andin more cancers than with any other technology in the ADC field.
 
 
Lilly declined to comment beyond the statements it providedin its Dec. 20 press release, emphasizing the statement of Dr. Greg Plowman,vice president of Lilly Oncology research, which stated, "Today's technologicaladvances offer hope for future cancer patients. Lilly has a diverse pipeline oftargeted cancer therapies, and is focused on the development of agents withclear clinical benefit in specific patient populations." Plowman, who is alsothe senior vice president of research for ImClone, added, "The use ofImmunoGen's technology to develop antibody-drug conjugates holds promise inhelping Lilly achieve these improved outcomes for patients."
 
 
Amgen did not respond to interview requests for this story.In a press release, Daniel Junius, president and CEO of the Waltham,Mass.-based company, stated, "Lilly is a leader in the development ofinnovative, anticancer medicines. Their commitment to developing significantnew antibody-based therapeutics makes them an attractive partner for ImmunoGen."


Amy Swinderman

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