ImmunoGen touts new drug-delivering antibodies

After forming partnerships with several major pharmas, ImmunoGen wants to boost its pipeline of proprietary antibody-drug conjugates. The Waltham, MA-based biotech ($IMGN) carried this message last week to analysts in New York and offered a peek at its latest compounds.

ImmunoGen is known widely in biotech circles for providing the key technology for Roche/Genentech's experimental T-DM1, enabling a cancer-killing toxin to be linked to the approved antibody drug Herceptin to treat certain patients with breast cancer. While that is the latest-stage candidate to employ ImmunoGen's technology, the firm wants investors to know about its own compounds that could bolster its future prospects.

One of the compounds, called IMGN529, is an antibody that targets non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and packs the killer punch of a toxin. The toxin is supposed to remain linked to the antibody in a patient's bloodstream, until the compound reaches the targeted cancer site. This approach enables the company to home in on specific tumor targets with the antibody while delivering a potent toxin against the cancer. The firm aims to file with the FDA by mid-2011 for the green light to begin early human trials with the new compound.

"We're working very hard to be moving from a partner-based company--although that will still have a role--to being one that is much more focused on proprietary compounds," ImmunoGen CEO Daniel Junius told me last week for a story in Xconomy.

Still, ImmunoGen has not advanced beyond early-stage clinical trials with its proprietary compounds, of which the firm controls completely and does not share ownership with its pharma collaborators. Some of those collaborators include Roche, Sanofi-Aventis and Novartis. "While there's a substantial ongoing effort (at ImmunoGen) to shift focus to the emerging pipeline, we still believe investors will need to see validating (proof-of-concept) data to trigger a new inflection in valuation," JP Morgan Research wrote in a note to investors last week.

- here's my Xconomy story