ImmunoGen and Gilead Team Up to Target AML

Gilead_JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty

Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

ImmunoGen entered into a clinical collaboration deal with Gilead Sciences Friday to evaluate the safety and efficacy of two drugs that, when used in concert, have the potential to treat AML, a blood disorder biopharma has found challenging to target. 

Though both companies bring their share of speckled pasts in oncology to the deal, the companies’ officials hope the agreement with spark a breakthrough in notoriously intractable acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

A leader in antibody-drug conjugates--used to treat various malignancies --Immunogen plans to work with Gilead to assess the benefits of pivekimab sunirine in combination with Gilead’s magrolimab, a potential, first-in-class CD47 inhibitor in patients with relapsed or refractory (R/R) CD123.

Immunogen has a speckled history with few success stories. The company only recently gained its first regulatory approval with Elahere -- 41 years after its founding.

Given the complementary profile of the two drugs and “limited overlap” in safety profiles, we hope to explore this therapy in the R/R patient population, where few treatments exist, said Anna Berkenblit, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer of ImmunoGen in a statement regarding the partnership. 

Magrolimab targets CD47, a "do not eat me" signal that allows cancer cells to avoid destruction, thereby permitting the patient’s innate immune system to engulf and eradicate those cancer cells, according to Gilead.

Though the potential for an efficacious treatment for AML is much sought after, ImmunoGen and Gilead may make strange bedfellows. 

Besides ImmunoGen’s single win with Elahere, a therapeutic designed to treat ovarian cancer, Gilead, too, brings some historical baggage to the partnership.

Gilead's magrolimab comes from its buyout of Forty-Seven in 2020. Safety concerns since the buyout have dinged this CD47 therapy.

Since the buyout, safety concerns over the novel therapeutic prompted an abrupt pause in magrolimab trials in April 2022, according to the American Association for Cancer Research.

The FDA lifted the partial hold later that month, allowing Gilead to evaluate magrolimab in combination with azacytidine across a variety of liquid tumors.

Nonetheless, the collaboration ought to begin in 2023 with a new patient group of ImmoGen’s current 802 study to evaluate pivekimab and magrolimab when used in combination, according to the companies. 

The collaboration will be a new cohort in the 802 study and will evaluate 42 patients with R/R CD123-positive AML.

Immunogen’s stock was up nearly 6% in pre-marketing trading Friday as investors reacted to the deal.

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