Lilly Hooks Up with ImmunoGen Again for $1.7B ADC Deal


Shares of ImmunoGen are climbing this morning after the company announced an antibody-drug conjugate (ADCs) collaboration with Eli Lilly valued at up to $1.7 billion.

With the collaboration, Eli Lilly gains access to ImmunoGen’s novel camptothecin technology to research, develop, and commercialize ADCs against the Indianapolis-based company’s chosen targets. Camptothecins are a class of anticancer drugs that target Type I topoisomerase. ImmunoGen’s proprietary class of camptothecin linker-payloads are designed to optimize existing camptothecin technology to potentially deliver a wider therapeutic window with enhanced safety and efficacy.

Eli Lilly will aim the ADCs at selected targets that were not identified in the announcement.

Stacy Coen, chief business officer of ImmunoGen, said Eli Lilly has a proven track record of developing novel oncology drugs and bringing them to market.

“We are pleased that they selected our novel camptothecin technology to integrate with their efforts to develop next-generation ADC. This licensing agreement demonstrates ImmunoGen’s continued innovation in ADCs, creates value from our intellectual property around a proprietary platform, and further enhances our ability to re-invest in our business as we build out our pipeline and accelerate our transformation into a fully-integrated oncology company,” Coen said in a statement.

Eli Lilly and ImmunoGen are no strangers to each other when it comes to ADCs. Eleven years ago, the two companies hooked up in a $200 million pact to pair ImmunoGen’s maytansinoid Targeted Antibody Payload (TAP) technology with Lilly’s monoclonal antibodies to develop novel antibody-drug conjugate anticancer therapeutics. Two years later, that pact was extended. Then, in 2018, Eli Lilly backed out of the deal.

Antibody Drug Conjugates are a form of therapeutics designed to be highly specific in targeting cancer cells. The ADCs are expected to deliver the monoclonal antibody payload to the diseased area while mitigating any impact to healthy surrounding cells—in a similar manner to a guided missile. Multiple companies are advancing ADCs against various oncology targets. Companies like AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Astellas Pharma, Seattle Genetics. Roche and Daiichi Sankyo are all developing different ADCs to target various cancers. Several companies have already taken ADCs to market, including AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo with Enhertu, a treatment for patients with unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer; Padcev, a first-of-its-kind treatment for metastatic urothelial bladder cancer developed by Astellas and Seattle Genetics; and Genentech’s Polivy, an ADC for people with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma whose disease returned after or did not respond to multiple treatment regimens.

Under terms of the deal, Eli Lilly provided ImmunoGen with a $13 million upfront payment for initial targets. If Eli Lilly opts to aim the ADCs at additional targets, the company can pay ImmunoGen an additional $32.5 million. In total, ImmunoGen is eligible to receive up to $1.7 billion in potential target program exercise fees and milestone payments. ImmunoGen will also be eligible for tiered royalties as a percentage of worldwide commercial sales by Lilly should any of the ADCs be approved for commercial use.

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