Is Seattle Genetics the Next Big Thing?
Dendreon is not the only company working on prostate cancer immunotherapy; Seattle Genetics is working on a different type, using a different approach.
A few miles north of Seattle in the suburb of Bothell, Seattle Genetics (SGEN) has been working on a different type of immunotherapy. Whereas Dendreon's Provenge is a first-in-class drug to stimulate the immune system to recognize cancer, Seattle Genetics took the more proven route of using monoclonal antibodies (hereafter, MAbs) to seek out a specific marker on cancer cells. This approach has been validated with billions of dollars in approved drugs across multiple indications.
So why is Seattle Genetics special? It is at the forefront of an effort to make MAbs better by "linking" or attaching powerful cell-killing drugs to them. These "powered" MAbs, also called antibody drug conjugates or ADCs, are indeed the next big thing -- especially in cancer therapy.
At the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting starting this weekend, Seattle Genetics will present data on its drug "brentuximab vedotin" (formerly SGN-35) for the treatment of the blood cancers Hodgkin's Lymphoma and systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). Investors already know the top-line data, with an astonishing 75% of Hodgkin's Lymphoma patients seeing their tumors shrink at least 50%. In ALCL, 87% of patients saw their tumors shrink at least 50% and 97% of patients saw their tumors shrink at least some. In both cases, patients receiving brentuximab vedotin had already failed multiple other treatments.
These data represent a major advance in these diseases -- arguably as important an advance as Rituxan (2009 sales $5.6 billion) in CD20-positive blood cancers and Velcade (2009 sales of $1.4 billion) in multiple myeloma. But brentuximab vedotin's importance to MAb therapy is not confined to the CD30-positive tumors it treats. It is one of the best examples of the power of ADCs.Brentuximab vedotin is not Seattle Genetics' first attempt at treating CD30-positive blood cancers like Hodgkin's Lymphoma. A previous drug, SGN-30, was tried. The difference between SGN-30 and brentuximab vedotin is SGN-30 did not use Seattle Genetics' ADC technology.
While the patient populations are not 100% directly comparable, the table below shows the dramatic difference in efficacy between the "unpowered" SGN-30 and the "powered" brentuximab vedotin.
Application of Seattle Genetics' proprietary ADC technology raised the response rate of the CD30-targeted MAb from 3.3% to 75% in these patients. This is an astonishing outcome demonstrating how revolutionary the ADC concept can be for drug efficacy.
In the short term, investors will be watching presentations before market open on Monday and Tuesday to see the proportion of complete and partial responses. Abstracts released ahead of the full presentations suggest investors are unlikely to see anything negative in the data.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.
Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Daily Recap Newsletter