ADC from A to Z
by Amy Swinderman  |  Email the author


WALTHAM, Mass.óAt the end of December, Eli Lilly & Co. entered into a collaboration agreement with anticancer therapy developer ImmunoGen that gives the pharma access to ImmunoGen's antibody drug conjugate (ADC) technology, a partnership expected to advance the pursuit of targeted therapies for cancer patients.
Under the agreement, Lilly will pay an upfront fee of $20 million for rights to take a limited number of exclusive licenses to use ImmunoGen's maytansinoid Targeted Antibody Payload (TAP) technology with Lilly monoclonal antibodies to develop novel ADC anticancer therapeutics. Each license taken entitles ImmunoGen to receive milestone payments potentially totaling approximately $200 million and also royalties on the sales of any resulting products. ImmunoGen is also entitled to receive financial compensation for any research and/or manufacturing done on behalf of Lilly. Lilly will bear responsibility for the development, manufacturing and marketing of any products resulting from the agreement.
According to many researchers, ADCs are poised to deliver much-needed targeted therapies for cancer. ADCs consist of an antibody linked to a payload drug. The antibody causes the ADC to bind to the target cancer cells. Often the ADC is then internalized by the cell, and the drug is released to do its damage. Because of such targeting, it is hoped that side effects will be lower, and researchers will be given a wider therapeutic window.  
ImmunoGen has developed specialized cancer cell-killing agents to serve as payloads to be attached to tumor-targeting antibodies for targeted delivery to tumor cells.
ImmunoGen is using its TAP technology to develop compounds, both through its own pipeline and those of its partners. ImmunoGen's lead compound, trastuzumab emtansine, is in advanced clinical testing by Genentech and Roche. The company also has two other compounds in development, lorvotuzumab mertansine (IMGN901) for CD56+ solid tumors and multiple myeloma and SAR3419 for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. According to the company, clinical data have been published on more anticancer compounds made with its technology, and in more cancers than with any other technology in the ADC field.  
Lilly declined to comment beyond the statements it provided in its Dec. 20 press release, emphasizing the statement of Dr. Greg Plowman, vice president of Lilly Oncology research, which stated, "Today's technological advances offer hope for future cancer patients. Lilly has a diverse pipeline of targeted cancer therapies, and is focused on the development of agents with clear clinical benefit in specific patient populations." Plowman, who is also the senior vice president of research for ImClone, added, "The use of ImmunoGen's technology to develop antibody-drug conjugates holds promise in helping Lilly achieve these improved outcomes for patients."  
Amgen did not respond to interview requests for this story. In a press release, Daniel Junius, president and CEO of the Waltham, Mass.-based company, stated, "Lilly is a leader in the development of innovative, anticancer medicines. Their commitment to developing significant new antibody-based therapeutics makes them an attractive partner for ImmunoGen."

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