AstraZeneca's MedImmune Acquires Spirogen and Strengthens Antibody-Drug Conjugate Capability

Oct 15, 2013
By Pharmaceutical Technology Editors

MedImmune, the global biologics R&D arm of AstraZeneca, has acquired Spirogen, a privately held biotechnology company focused on antibody-drug conjugate technology for use in oncology, MedImmune announced in a press release. MedImmune has also entered into a collaboration agreement with ADC Therapeutics to jointly develop two of ADC Therapeutics’ antibody-drug conjugate programs in preclinical development.

MedImmune will make an equity investment in ADC Therapeutics, which has an existing licensing agreement with Spirogen. MedImmune will acquire 100% 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 programs 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 copromote one of the products in the US.

Antibody-drug conjugates offer both high potency and selective targeting of cancer cells. Spirogen’s proprietary pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD) technology attaches highly potent cytotoxic agents to specific cancer-targeting antibodies using biodegradable linkers. This targeting optimizes the delivery of the cancer drug to the tumor cells only and provides the greatest degree of tumor killing while minimizing the toxicity to the patient.

MedImmune Oncology is a core therapy area for AstraZeneca that spans both small molecule and biologics research and development. MedImmune is developing a comprehensive portfolio with an emphasis on two key areas in oncology development: antibody-drug conjugates and immune-mediated cancer therapy, which aims to harness the power of the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer.