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AstraZeneca makes play in ADC market

Authored by James Sheppard

Global pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has recently announced the acquisition of UK based antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) specialist Spirogen. The deal will put Spirogen as part of AstraZeneca’s biologics unit, MedImmune. The deal is worth an estimated $440m with an upfront payment of $200m.

Spirogen currently have 4 products in development, including drug-conjugates, with SG2000 the company’s lead asset. SG2000 is currently in phase II clinical trials after reporting positive results in 69 patients with ovarian carcinoma. The phase III trial is currently underway in the USA with further trials planned for Europe.

As part of the deal MedImmune is also investing $20m for a percentage of ADC Therapeutics. The $20m will be matched by Auven Therapeutics who are the majority shareholder in both ADC Therapeutics and Spirogen. The financial details of the deal were not revealed with both companies only revealing the inclusion of milestone payments for predetermined goals.

Oncology is core to Pascal Soriot’s AstraZeneca plan and he has set about rebuilding the company’s pipeline from the bottom up. Following deals with Moderna Therapeutics, Bind Therapeutics and Horizon Discovery MedImmune has signalled its intent to become a major player in the oncology market.

Dr Bahija Jallal, EVP, MedImmune, said ‘Antibody-drug conjugates are ground-breaking technologies with the potential for directly targeting many types of cancer tumours while safeguarding healthy cells. The cutting-edge technologies developed by Spirogen and ADC Therapeutics complement MedImmune’s innovative antibody engineering capabilities, enabling us to accelerate antibody-drug conjugates into the clinic.’

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