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Bayer signs $520m cancer alliance with Seattle Genetics

Will focus on development of antibody-drug conjugates

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Bayer yesterday signed a $520m deal with Seattle Genetics focused on the development of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) against several cancer targets.

The German pharmaceuticals and chemicals major is that latest in a string of companies signing up for access to Seattle Genetics technology, which uses a proprietary linker system to attach a cytotoxic agent to antibodies that home in on tumour cells and deliver their toxic payload.

All told, Seattle Genetics now has the potential to receive up to $3.5bn in milestone payments from deals signed with the likes of Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Daiichi Sankyo and AbbVie along with royalty streams should the partnered products come to market.  It currently has more than 15 in-house and partnered ADCs in clinical trials.

Andreas Busch, head of global drug discovery at Bayer, said that ADCs "are one of our focus areas in oncology research" as the drugs "can attack tumour cells in a much more targeted way for cancer patients, such that healthy cells are less severely affected".

The company has been working with Seattle Genetics on an ADC programme since 2004 on one cancer target, which has reached phase I testing,.

The latest deal cements the relationship with an expanded, multi-target alliance that provides Seattle Genetics with an upfront fee of $20m and up to $500m in milestones, plus royalties.

Under the terms of the agreement, Bayer will be responsible for research, product development, manufacturing and commercialisation of all products.

Seattle Genetics currently markets the ADC product Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin), which is partnered with Takeda subsidiary Millennium and was approved by the FDA in 2011 to treat Hodgkin's lymphoma and systemic anaplastic large-cell lymphoma.

The ADC is now sold in more than 30 countries worldwide, and Seattle Genetics racked up almost $140m in North American sales last year, up from $43m in 2011. The drug is also in late-stage testing for cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

26th June 2013

From: Research

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