Armed-antibody successes inspire a burst of new building projects, industry deals

The rapid success of Roche's ($RHHBY) breast cancer drug Kadcyla following the breakthrough approval of Seattle Genetics' ($SGEN) Adcetris helped make antibody-drug conjugates one of the hottest fields in drug research. And some key manufacturers have been ramping up expanded facilities to help support the growing number of armed antibodies in the pipeline.

Roche, which has a full pipeline of ADC projects, recently outlined plans to invest more than $200 million to build a new ADC facility in Basel. And Chemical & Engineering News notes that Sigma-Aldrich, Carbogen Amcis, Lonza and Piramal Healthcare have all recently announced new investments in ADC production facilities.

It's not hard to see what's driving all the activity. Analysts at Roots Analysis estimated that the market on ADCs could grow to a hefty $9 billion in the next 10 years.

Roots Analysis also listed some of the top ADC programs in the clinic that could compete for that market. At the top of the list is Pfizer's ($PFE) inotuzumab ozogamicin, a top program that recently failed a late-stage study for aggressive CD22-positive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma but remains in the clinic for hematologic malignancies. Then there's glembatumumab vedotin (CDX-011), a program by Celldex that features an antibody targeted to the GPNMB protein and a linked chemo drug; lorvotuzumab mertansine (IMGN901), an ImmunoGen ADC that targets cells that express the protein CD56; SAR3419, developed in collaboration by ImmunoGen ($IMGN) and Sanofi ($SNY); along with BT062 and PSMA-ADC.

Where there's drug market potential, there's deal making. Just a few days ago ImmunoGen--which partnered on the tech for Kadcyla--signed another R&D pact, this time with Novartis ($NVS).

Looking to play catch-up, AstraZeneca ($AZN) just days ago announced plans to buy Spirogen for up to $440 million while investing $20 million in Switzerland's ADC Therapeutics. 

- here's the story from C&EN