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Seattle Genetics (SGEN - Free Report) and Agensys, a subsidiary of Astellas Pharma Inc. , recently announced that the former has exercised its option to co-develop one more antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), ASG-15ME, under an existing collaboration. ASG-15ME is an ADC which targets the tumor antigen SLITRK6.

Astellas has filed an investigational new drug (IND) application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so that it can commence a phase I study with ASG-15ME.

We note that the agreement between Astellas and Seattle Genetics dates back to Jan 2007. The companies had collaborated to jointly research, develop, fund and market  ADCs for cancer treatments. The companies are currently co-developing a couple of ADCs - ASG-5ME and ASG-22ME.

ADCs have lately attracted a lot of attention with major companies entering into collaborations for developing potent ADCs for cancer therapy. Seattle Genetics has collaborations with companies like Roche Holding AG's (RHHBY - Free Report) Genentech for the development of ADCs.

Apart from Astellas, Seattle Genetics has ADC co-development agreements with Genmab (GNMSF - Free Report) and Oxford BioTherapeutics.

Seattle Genetics’ sole marketed ADC product is Adcetris. Adcetris was approved by the FDA in Aug 2011 for the treatment of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) after failure of autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) or after failure of at least two prior multi-agent chemotherapy regimens in patients who are not suitable for ASCT. Adcetris was also approved for systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (sALCL) in treatment-experienced patients. Adcetris is also being evaluated in other indications.

Seattle Genetics carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) while Astellas and Roche carry a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Right now, Genmab looks more attractive with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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