ADCs are made of a monoclonal antibody attached to a cancer-killing “payload” which binds to a target on cancer cells.
Under the terms of the deal, ImmunoGen will license its DNA-acting highly potent cytotoxic payloads, known as IGNs. These allow drugmakers to target some types of cancer which would not otherwise be treatable with ADCs, such as those insensitive to tubulin-acting agents or with less robust target expression.
Takeda’s two cancer targets are unknown. The Japanese company will pay ImmunoGen $20m (€18m) upfront, plus milestone payments up to $210m (€192m). It has the option to take a licence for a third target for an extra fee.
Immunogen stock jumped 18% from a low of $7.43 before markets opened on Monday, closing at $8.45 on Tuesday. The company said it will not update its financial guidance for 2015.
Antibody drug conjugates
ImmunoGen’s payload agents include tubulin-acting maytansinoids, currently used in several marketed ADCs, including Genentech’s Kadcyla.
As well as payloads, the company’s ADC technology portfolio includes engineered linkers which attach agents to their target. These are designed to be stable while the ADC is traveling through the blood stream to the cancer cells, before helping the payload release.
“ADC technology is a critically important tool in addressing unmet needs in oncology,” said Christopher Claiborne, head of oncology drug discovery at Takeda. “By partnering with ImmunoGen, we are able to leverage this important technology in Takeda’s R&D program and bring novel agents through the clinic.”
The latest deal was made through Takeda’s subsidiary Millennium Pharmaceuticals.