Seattle Genetics, Genmab enter ADC collaboration worth up to $211m

By Zachary Brennan contact

- Last updated on GMT

Genmab will use the Seattle Genetics tech to create its antibody targeting AXL, which is expressed on multiple types of solid cancers
Genmab will use the Seattle Genetics tech to create its antibody targeting AXL, which is expressed on multiple types of solid cancers

Related tags: Cancer

Seattle Genetics and Genmab have entered into another antibody-drug conjugate (ADC)partnership under which Genmab will pay $11m upfront for use of Seattle’s auristatin-based ADC technology. 

Genmab will use the Seattle Genetics tech to create its HuMax-AXL, an antibody targeting AXL which is expressed on multiple types of solid cancers. Seattle Genetics is also entitled to receive more than $200m in potential milestone payments and mid-to-high single digit royalties on worldwide net sales of any resulting products.

Prior to Genmab's initiation of a Phase III study, Seattle Genetics can exercise an option to increase the royalties to double digits in exchange for a reduction of the milestone payments owed by Genmab, though Genmab will remain in full control of development and commercialization.

We will use the linker technology to create an antibody drug conjugate produce known as HuMax-AXL-ADC​,” Rachel Curtis Gravesen, SVP of Genmab, told us, noting that neither Genmab nor Seattle has disclosed who will manufacture the ADC.

She also noted that Seattle Genetics and Genmab have another collaboration from Sept. 2010 where a Genmab antibody and the Seattle Genetics technology is used to create HuMax-TF-ADC. This product is in a Phase I trial, but Seattle Genetics will have an option to opt in after Phase I, “and if they opt in the companies would split costs and eventual revenues 50/50​,” Gravesen said. Genmab noted that the news will not impact its financial guidance moving foreward.

Seattle’s proprietary technology combines potent synthetic cytotoxic agents and stable linkers that attach the cytotoxic agent to an antibody, according to Seattle Genetics. The antibody is targeted against a specific tumor-associated receptor on cancer cell surfaces. Linker systems then release the cell-killing agent once inside the targeted cells, which is intended to spare non-targeted cells and reduce the toxic effects of traditional chemotherapy while enhancing antitumor activity.

"This new collaboration with Seattle Genetics adds another ADC program to our innovative pre-clinical pipeline of antibodies developed using the latest technological advances in cancer therapeutics. Pre-clinical work identified AXL as an excellent target for an ADC therapeutic approach​," said Jan van de Winkel, CEO of Genmab. "Accessing state-of-the art technology of companies such as Seattle Genetics who are experts in their field provides another means for Genmab to develop differentiated cancer therapeutics while retaining maximal ownership of our therapeutic products​."

Licensing agreements for Seattle’s proprietary ADC technology have now generated more than $275m through more than 15 collaborator ADC programs. The company is entitled to receive a total of approximately $4.5bn in potential milestone payments based on the advancement of collaborator ADCs plus royalties. Seattle’s ADC Adcentris is also expected to become a blockbuster drug, according to a biotech analyst with William Blair​.

"This collaboration with Genmab further extends the reach of our industry-leading ADC technology for use with novel oncology targets, while providing us with a compelling financial value proposition as the program advances​," said Natasha Hernday, VP at Seattle Genetics. "Genmab's impressive track record in the development of antibody-based therapies for the treatment of cancer, including an ADC in a Phase I clinical trial for solid tumors utilizing Seattle Genetics technology from our first agreement, make them a strong partner for this new collaboration​."

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