WALTHAM, Mass.—ImmunoGen Inc. has taken the wraps off acollaboration agreement with Novartis to discover and develop targetedanticancer therapeutics using antibodies to several antigen targets to be namedby Novartis.
Under terms of the agreement, Novartis will pay a $45million upfront fee to ImmunoGen for exclusive rights to use the company'sTargeted Antibody Payload (TAP) technology with antibodies to the specifiednumber of antigen targets. For each target that results in an anticancer therapeutic,ImmunoGen is entitled to receive milestone payments potentially totaling $200.5million plus royalties on product sales, if any. The company also is entitledto receive financial compensation for research and for any manufacturing doneon behalf of Novartis. Novartis is responsible for the development,manufacturing and marketing of any products resulting from this agreement.
This latest collaboration completes a Big Pharma oncology"trifecta" for ImmunoGen, which has now partnerships with the industry's topthree oncology antibody-based therapeutic companies; Roche/Genentech,sanofi-aventis and now, with this collaboration, Novartis.
"ImmunoGen has a valuable technology, and we're committed todeveloping our own pipeline of anticancer therapeutics," says Daniel Junius,president and CEO of ImmunoGen. "Our partnerships provide funding support forour internal product programs and further development of our technology."
Junius adds that ImmunoGen will continue to establish newcollaborations on a selective basis.
Novartis spokesman Jeffrey Lockwood points out that this isthe first time that the two companies have forged a collaborative effort.
"We are attracted by ImmunoGen's more than 25 years workingin the ADC space and track record of moving projects into the clinic, whichmake them an attractive collaborator," he says.
ImmunoGen developed its TAP technology to achieve moreeffective, better-tolerated anticancer drugs. A TAP compound consists of atumor-targeting manufactured antibody with one of ImmunoGen's proprietary,highly potent cancer-killing agents attached as a payload. The antibody servesto deliver the payload specifically to tumor cells, and the payload serves tokill these cells.
ImmunoGen's technology portfolio uniquely provides aselection of highly potent cancer-killing payload agents; a selection of stablelinkers for attachment of these agents to antibodies; and a means of attachingthe payload to the antibody that retain the desired structural and functionalproperties of the antibody.
Seven TAP compounds are now in clinical testing throughImmunoGen's own product programs and those of its partners.
"This collaboration gives Novartis access to an antibodydrug conjugate technology that we believe has great potential for discoveringand developing novel targeted therapies for cancer," says Lockwood.
Novartis and Synthetic Genomics Vaccines to developinfluenza vaccines
BASEL, Switzerland—Novartis also recently announced anagreement with Synthetic Genomics Vaccines Inc. (SGVI) to apply "syntheticgenomics" technologies to accelerate the production of the influenza seedstrains required for vaccine manufacturing.
The seed strain is the starter culture of a virus, and isthe base from which larger quantities of the vaccine virus can be grown. Thethree-year agreement, supported by an award from the U.S. Biomedical AdvancedResearch and Development Authority, could ultimately lead to a more effectiveresponse to seasonal and pandemic flu outbreaks.
Novartis and SGVI will work to develop a "bank" ofsynthetically constructed seed viruses ready to go into production as soon asthe World Health Organization identifies the flu strains.
The companies say thetechnology could reduce the vaccine production time by up to two months, whichis particularly critical in the event of a pandemic.
Novartis plans to test vaccines that could potentiallyresult from this new approach in large-scale clinical trials. Review andapproval from country health authorities will be obtained before any commercialuse.
SVGI is a new company formed by Synthetic Genomics Inc. and thenot-for-profit research institute, the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI).Novartis has been working with JCVI for more than a decade.