Abbott is paying Seattle Genetics $25 million to expand the firms’ existing antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) alliance. The new deal gives Abbott access to Seattle’s auristatin-based ADC technology for use with antibodies against additional targets. Seattle may receive up to $220 million in milestone payments per additional target, plus royalties on worldwide sales of resulting products.

Abbott is responsible for research, product development, manufacturing, and commercialization of any ADC products under the expanded collaboration. In addition to the up-front payment and potential milestones and royalties, Seattle Genetics will receive annual maintenance fees and research support payments. The firms’ original ADC collaboration, penned in March 2011, gave Abbott rights to utilize Seattle Genetics’ ADC technology with antibodies to a single oncology target.

“ADCs have emerged as an important therapeutic approach to cancer, driven by the FDA approval of Adcetris®, and encouraging data from numerous clinical and preclinical ADC programs in development by Seattle Genetics and our collaborators,” states Natasha Hernday, vp corporate development at Seattle Genetics. “We are leading the field in ADC development, and this expanded collaboration with Abbott further validates our technology and approach in targeting and treating cancer.” Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) is the first drug approved by FDA that utilizes Seattle’s ADC technology. The drug has been developed in collaboration with Takeda’s Millennium subsidiary, and was approved by FDA in August 2011 for the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and anaplastic large cell lymphoma. The development program for Adcetris spans a number of hematologic and non-hematologic cancer indications.

Seattle’s ADC technology attaches synthetic auristatin cytotoxic agents (including monomethyl auristatin E, and monomethyl auristatin F) to antibodies using stable linkers. Seattle claims its microtubule-disrupting auristatin drugs are 100–1,000 times more potent than traditional chemotherapy agents in preclinical models. In addition, the firm’s linker systems are designed to be stable in the bloodstream and release the cytotoxic agent only once inside the antibody-targeted cancer cells, which spares non-targeted healthy cells, helps to reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy, and at the same time enhances antitumor activity.

Seattle is exploiting its technologies to develop an in-house and partnered anticancer pipeline. The firm has a number of ADC licensing agreements in place with Abbott, Agensys, Celldex, Daiichi-Sankyo, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Millennium, Pfizer, and Progenics. The firm has also established ADC co-development agreements with Agensys (an Astellas Pharma subsidiary) and Genmab. These agreements give Seattle the potential to complement its existing internal pipeline through opt-in rights to 50:50 co-development and profit-sharing for its partners’ ADC product candidates. As part of the Agensys deal Seattle is co-developing two ADC programs, and has an opt-in right to a third project. Through the Genmab deal Seattle has opt-in rights to two ADC programs at the end of Phase I.

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