Japanese drug maker Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, through its wholly owned subsidiary Millennium Pharmaceuticals, has signed an agreement with US-based ImmunoGen to develop and commercialise anti-cancer therapeutics up to two undisclosed targets.

As part of the deal, Takeda has secured exclusive rights to use ImmunoGen’s antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technology, including its new DNA-acting IGN payload agents to develop targeted anti-cancer therapeutics.

Takeda oncology drug discovery unit head Dr Christopher Claiborne said: "ADC technology is a critically important tool in addressing unmet needs in oncology.

"ADC technology is a critically important tool in addressing unmet needs in oncology."

"By partnering with ImmunoGen, we are able to leverage this important technology in Takeda’s R&D programme and bring novel agents through the clinic."

Under the deal, ImmunoGen will receive $20m upfront payment and is also eligible to receive milestone payments up to $210m for each target, in addition to royalties on the commercial net sales of any resulting ADC products.

Takeda will take responsibility for the development, manufacturing and marketing of any ADC products resulting from the deal.

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The deal will also allow Takeda to have a licence for a third target for an additional upfront fee.

ImmunoGen president and CEO Daniel Junius said: "Takeda shares our commitment to developing novel anti-cancer therapies that meaningfully improve the lives of patients, and we look forward to collaborating with them to create important new ADC product candidates."

An ADC includes a monoclonal antibody that binds to a target found on cancer cells with a cancer-cell killing agent, or payload attached.

ImmunoGen’s portfolio of proprietary payload agents includes its tubulin-acting maytansinoids that are used in around ten ADCs, including Roche’s marketed product Kadcyla.