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 also the senior vice president of researchfor ImClone, added, "The use of ImmunoGen's technology to develop antibody-drugconjugates holds promise in helping Lilly achieve these improved outcomes forpatients."
 
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 forImmunoGen."
 

 
U of Cambridge joins Lilly's Open Innovation DrugDiscovery Platform
 
 
CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—The University of Cambridge has joined EliLilly & Co.'s Open Innovation Drug Discovery Platform program, aninitiative that aims to foster top talent in medical discovery and address thechallenges by researchers in Europe.
 
Designed to minimize obstacles and benefit continuedresearch that supplements the innovation of Lilly's scientists, the newplatform—accessed via a secure website athttps://openinnovation.lilly.com—offers researchers working in universities,hospitals and other academic institutions an opportunity to use Lilly'sresearch and development capacity to evaluate compounds in development aspotential new medicines.
 
 
"I think of Open Innovation Drug Discovery as a platformconsisting of multiple superhighways all pointed towards the final destinationof discovering novel medicines that we believe have the potential to improvepatients' lives," said Dr. Alan D. Palkowitz, vice president of discoverychemistry research and technologies at Lilly, in a statement. "Thesesuperhighways connect scientists from all over the world with Lilly, for thecommon goal of finding new treatments for diseases where patients are in needand looking for answers, such as cancer, diabetes and multi-drug resistanttuberculosis."
 
Other participating universities, biotechs and researchinstitutes are located in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany,Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UnitedKingdom.

Amy Swinderman

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