AstraZeneca oncology portfolio strengthened as MedImmune acquisition of Spirogen boosts antibody-drug conjugate capability

AstraZeneca today announced that MedImmune, its global biologics research and development arm, has acquired Spirogen, a privately-held biotech company focused on antibody-drug conjugate technology for use in oncology.

MedImmune has also entered into a collaboration agreement with ADC Therapeutics to jointly develop two of ADC Therapeutics’ antibody-drug conjugate programmes in preclinical development. MedImmune will also make an equity investment in ADC Therapeutics, which has an existing licensing agreement with Spirogen.

MedImmune will acquire 100 per cent of Spirogen’s shares for an initial consideration of $200 million and deferred consideration of up to $240 million based on reaching predetermined development milestones. Existing out-licensing agreements and associated revenue streams are excluded from this acquisition.

MedImmune will also pay $20 million for an equity investment in ADC Therapeutics, which will be matched by Auven Therapeutics, the majority shareholder in both ADC Therapeutics and Spirogen. The collaboration agreement will include an upfront payment with predetermined development milestones for two programmes from a defined list and a cost- and profit-sharing arrangement with MedImmune representing the majority share. ADC Therapeutics will also have the option to co-promote one of the products in the US.

Antibody-drug conjugates are a clinically-validated cancer drug technology that offers both high potency and selective targeting of cancer cells. Spirogen’s proprietary pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD) technology attaches highly potent cytotoxic agents, or ‘warheads’ to specific cancer-targeting antibodies using biodegradable ‘linkers’. This targeting optimises the delivery of the cancer drug to the tumour cells only and provides the greatest degree of tumour killing while minimising the toxicity to the patient.

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