ImmunoGen ($IMGN) has struck a $440 million antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) licensing deal with Takeda, moving it a step closer to recovering from the body blow of last year's Phase III flop. The heavily backloaded deal was cheered by investors, sending ImmunoGen's stock up 21% in premarket trading.
Waltham, MA-based ImmunoGen will receive $20 million from Takeda upfront in return for exclusive rights to use its ADC technology against two undisclosed cancer targets. Progress against each target is tied to $210 million in milestones, putting ImmunoGen in line to rake in $440 million plus royalties if both programs succeed while Takeda foots the bill for development, manufacturing and marketing of any resulting products. Takeda also has the right to license the ADC technology for use against a third target for an additional upfront fee.
The value of the deal to ImmunoGen extends beyond money, though. Last year's failure of the Roche-partnered Kadcyla in a Phase III trial comparing three HER2-targeted breast cancer regimens--coupled to an earlier setback for ImmunoGen's in-house lead candidate--had cast doubts on the effectiveness of the ADC technology. Takeda is bullish, though. "ADC technology is a critically important tool in addressing unmet needs in oncology. By partnering with ImmunoGen, we are able to leverage this important technology in Takeda's R&D program," Takeda oncology drug discovery chief Christopher Claiborne said in a statement.
Takeda's interest represents a validation for ImmunoGen and the broader ADC field, the hype around which has waxed and waned as early scientific promise has butted up against the harsh reality of clinical development. ImmunoGen thinks its portfolio of targeting vehicle linkers and cancer cell killing agents can improve oncology care by facilitating the delivery of therapeutic blasts more potent than chemotherapy directly to tumors. The promise of the technique has led to deals with Amgen ($AMGN), Eli Lilly ($LLY), Novartis ($NVS), Roche ($RHHBY), Sanofi ($SNY) and now Takeda.
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