AbbVie adds a slate of $255M wagers on Seattle Genetics' 'armed' antibody cancer tech

Whatever AbbVie ($ABBV) learned in the first stages of its collaboration with Seattle Genetics on antibody-drug conjugates must have seriously whetted the pharma company's appetite for more. The Seattle biotech said this morning that AbbVie is paying $25 million upfront and up to $255 million more in milestones for each new target they tackle in a greatly expanded partnership.

Seattle Genetics ($SGEN) is one of the pioneers in the ADC world of "armed" antibodies. Its ADC Adcetris has been approved for two indications and is the subject of a collaboration with Takeda that involves 20 ongoing clinical trials. Partnerships have always played a big role at the company, and Seattle Genetics and Genentech are working together on a variety of programs.

AbbVie initially signed on with Seattle Genetics back in 2011 with an $8 million deal at a time the company was still part of Abbott ($ABT). AbbVie followed up with a $25 million advance last fall and now appears ready to jump in with both feet.

Popularized with the approval of Kadcyla, which Genentech developed with ADC tech from ImmunoGen ($IMGN), the tech ties a highly toxic agent to an antibody designed to precisely deliver its payload right on the cancer target.

"Seattle Genetics continues to advance the field of ADCs through the development and optimization of innovative approaches to empowering antibodies, such as our proprietary EC-mAb and potent PBD-based ADC technologies, both of which are utilized in our pipeline programs SGN-CD33A and SGN-CD70A," said Natasha Hernday, who runs corporate development at Seattle Genetics, in a statement. "By collaborating with companies such as AbbVie, we are expanding the reach of our ADC technology advancements to make novel targeted therapies available for cancer patients."

- here's the release