Reaching for results
BOTHELL, Wash.—Seattle Genetics, a biotechnology company located in the Seattle metro area and focused on the development and commercialization of innovative antibody-based therapies for the treatment of cancer, and Copenhagen, Denmark-based Genmab A/S, a biotechnology company specializing in the creation and development of differentiated human antibody therapeutics for the treatment of cancer, have entered into an additional antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) collaboration.
ADCs are monoclonal antibodies designed to selectively deliver cytotoxic agents to tumor cells, thus sparing non-targeted cells and reducing many of the toxic effects of traditional chemotherapy while enhancing antitumor activity. Seattle Genetics is focused on developing ADCs, a technology designed to harness the targeting ability of antibodies to deliver cell-killing agents directly to cancer cells.
“Partnering of selected innovative product candidates and technologies is a key focus of Genmab’s strategy, and the company has alliances with top-tier pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies,” said Rachel Curtis Gravesen, senior vice president of investor relations and communications at Genmab. “From Genmab’s side, the deal is a result of our business development processes.”
She added, “Genmab already uses the Seattle Genetics linker technology in our HuMax-TF-ADC product via an earlier collaboration. This new collaboration with Seattle Genetics adds another ADC program to our innovative preclinical pipeline of antibodies developed using the latest technological advances in cancer therapeutics.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Genmab has paid an upfront fee of $11 million for exclusive rights to use Seattle Genetics’ auristatin-based ADC technology with Genmab’s HuMax-AXL, an antibody targeting AXL expressed on multiple types of solid cancers. Seattle Genetics will be able to receive more than $200 million in potential milestone payments and mid-to-high single-digit royalties on worldwide net sales of any resulting products. Before Genmab’s initiation of a Phase 3 study for any resulting products, Seattle Genetics can exercise an option to increase the royalties to double digits in exchange for a reduction of the milestone payments owed by Genmab. Genmab remains in full control of development and commercialization of HuMax-AXL.
HuMax-AXL-ADC is an antibody-drug conjugate combining a high-affinity human monoclonal antibody against AXL with Seattle Genetics’ clinically validated cytotoxic drug. AXL is a signaling molecule involved in multiple processes of tumor development and progression. The target molecule is highly expressed on a variety of solid cancers. Founded in 1999, Genmab currently has one marketed antibody for the treatment of certain chronic lymphocytic leukemia indications, a clinical pipeline with both late- and early-stage programs and a preclinical pipeline focused on innovative therapies.
Natasha Hernday, vice president of corporate development at Seattle Genetics, said, “This collaboration with Genmab further extends the reach of our industry-leading ADC technology for use with novel oncology targets, while providing us with a compelling financial value proposition as the program advances. Genmab’s impressive track record in the development of antibody-based therapies for the treatment of cancer, including an ADC in a Phase 1 clinical trial for solid tumors utilizing Seattle Genetics technology from our first agreement, makes the company a strong partner for this new collaboration.”
According to Dr. Jan van de Winkel, CEO of Genmab, “Accessing state-of-the art technology of companies such as Seattle Genetics who are experts in their field provides another means for Genmab to develop differentiated cancer therapeutics while retaining maximal ownership of our therapeutic products.”
Seattle Genetics and Genmab entered into an ADC collaboration for HuMax-TF-ADC in September 2010. HuMax-TF-ADC, targeting the tissue factor antigen, is in a Phase 1 trial for solid tumors. Seattle Genetics has the right to exercise a co-development option to share all future costs and profits for HuMax- TF-ADC at the end of Phase 1.
“We have not disclosed any timeframe with this product,” Gravesen said. “It is currently in preclinical development.”
She concluded, “We have not discussed the commercial potential, but AXL is expressed on a number of solid tumors, such as pancreatic, esophageal and endometrial cancers and on macrophages, dendritic cells and NK cells.”