Swiss biopharma Debiopharm is paying ImmunoGen $25 million upfront to acquire the latter’s clinical-stage anti-CD37 antibody–drug conjugate (ADC) candidate IMGN529/DEBIO 1562. The drug is currently undergoing a Phase II trial in combination with rituximab for treating B-cell lymphoma and other forms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). ImmunoGen says a prior Phase I monotherapy trial with IMGN529/DEBIO 1562 has demonstrated evidence of anticancer activity in NHL.

ImmunoGen will receive another $5 million once it has transferred relevant assets to Debiopharm and is eligible for an additional $25 million milestone payment if a Phase III trial with IMGN529/DEBIO 1562 is initiated.

IMGN529/DEBIO 1562 has orphan drug status for the diffuse large-cell B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) indication. “IMGN529/DEBIO 1562 has already generated compelling clinical data, and we look forward to further exploring it in combination with Rituxan®, which could provide an attractive alternative to conventional chemotherapies for patients with NHL such as diffuse large-cell B-cell lymphoma,” said Chris Freitag, M.D., vp of clinical R&D at Debiopharm.

“With a strong history of developing and bringing oncology drugs to market, Debiopharm offers the right mix of resources and capabilities to advance IMGN529/DEBIO 1562 through its next phase of development,” added Mark Enyedy, president and CEO of ImmunoGen. “Consistent with the strategic review of our portfolio undertaken last fall, this transaction further enables us to prioritize our development efforts on mirvetuximab soravtansine and our IGN programs, while generating near-term value from IMGN529/DEBIO 1562.”

ImmunoGen is leveraging its ADC platform both through drug developent partnerships and generating ADC candidates in house. The firm’s home-grown pipeline is headed by mirvetuximab soravtansine, which being evaluated in the Phase III FORWARD I study as a treatment for platinum-resistant folate receptor alpha (FRα)-positive ovarian cancer. The first patient in the study was dosed in January. The Phase Ib/II FORWARD II trial is separately evaluating mirvetuximab soravtansine as part of combination therapy for both platinum-resistant and platinum-sensitive disease. 

ImmunoGen announced last September that it would be looking to cut 17% of its workforce and partner its noncore B-cell lymphoma programs, including IMGN529, and coltuximab ravtansine (formerly SAR3419), a CD19-targeting ADC, so that it could focus on taking mirvetuximab soravtansine into Phase III development and accelerate its IMGN 779 and IMGN632 candidates.

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