Physician's Financial News

By Matthew Mahady
Published: Thursday, Jun 10, 2010
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Seattle Genetics, Inc., Up and Coming Research-Based Concern, Developing Focused Pipeline of Targeted Therapies

Seattle Genetics, Inc., is a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of monoclonal antibody–based therapies, primarily for the treatment of cancer but also, in select instances, autoimmune disease. The company has no products on the market as of yet. What they do have is a concentrated research and development operation that is yielding results and progress across a rich but narrowly focused pipeline of six agents (three in preclinical development, three in clinical trials, all with oncology care applications) from only two select drug classes of targeted therapies that all have the potential to become breakaway drugs.

Seattle Genetics: The Basics

Seattle Genetics, Inc., was founded in 1997, held its initial public offering in March of 2001, and in January of 2008, completed a $103.5 million follow-on public offering.

Seattle Genetics currently employs more than 200 people. The headquarters of the company, perhaps sending a message about the depth of their research-oriented commitment, eschews the traditional corporate atmosphere. Indeed, there are offices, but the overall feel of the high-technology campus in Bothell, Washington, the Seattle suburb where Seattle Genetics makes its home, is less buttoned down and formal, more lab coats and activity. While most company executive headquarters project an image of business being done, the resource-laden Bothell campus, with its sprawling, state-of-the-art facilities, reflects a company going about the business of drug discovery.

Clinical Development

All of the Seattle Genetics product candidates belong to one of two monoclonal antibody classes. In addition to developing very targeted and specific forms of drugs, the company can also be said to have significantly contributed to the development and advancement of the two drug classes discussed herein. In fact, one of the classes, or sub-classes, covered in this section, antibody-drug conjugates, is a proprietary discovery and creation of Seattle Genetics. That is, the company is solely responsible for its existence and evolution. Seattle Genetics is focused on the following two key antibody-based technologies:

  • Engineered Monoclonal Antibodies. Some monoclonal antibodies have intrinsic antitumor activity. Once the antibody binds to a target cell, it can result in direct cancer cell death and/or activate the body’s anticancer immune response. Seattle Genetics’ lead monoclonal antibody product candidates are SGN-40, SGN-33 and SGN-70.
  • Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs). While some antibodies are capable of killing cells on their own, many are not potent enough but can effectively target cancer and deliver cell-killing payloads. Utilizing proprietary ADC technology, internalizing monoclonal antibodies are linked to cell-killing drugs, resulting in highly-potent agents. The linkers are stable in the bloodstream but release drug payloads inside target cells. The novel drug-linker systems that Seattle Genetics has developed are fully synthetic and therefore readily produced in large quantity. SGN-35, SGN-75, and anti-CD19 ADC employ this proprietary technology.
Currently, Seattle Genetics is developing the following drugs in various phases of clinical trials:

  • SGN-40 is a humanized antibody targeted to the CD40 antigen. Seattle Genetics is developing SGN-40 under a worldwide collaboration agreement with Genentech that was established in January 2007. Ongoing clinical trials under the collaboration include a phase II single-agent clinical trial in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), a phase IIb combination trial of Rituxan (rituximab) -ICE +/- SGN-40 in DLBCL, a phase Ib study of SGN-40 plus Rituxan and Gemzar (gemcitabine) in DLBCL, a phase Ib trial of SGN-40 in combination with Rituxan for indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a phase Ib combination trial of SGN-40 plus Revlimid (lenalidomide) for multiple myeloma. Seattle Genetics and Genentech recently initiated a sixth clinical trial of SGN-40 in combination with Velcade (bortezomib) for multiple myeloma.
  • SGN-33 (lintuzumab) is a humanized antibody targeted to the CD33 antigen, which is highly expressed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and several myeloproliferative disorders. The company is currently conducting a phase Ib single-agent clinical trial for patients with AML or MDS, a phase IIb trial of low-dose cytarabine (Cytosar) +/- SGN-33 in AML and a phase I trial of SGN-33 plus Revlimid (lenalidomide) for patients with advanced MDS.
  • SGN-35 is an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) composed of a monoclonal antibody linked to a derivative of the highly potent class of drugs called Auristatins using proprietary ADC technology. SGN-35 is in two phase I clinical trials for CD30-positive hematologic malignancies, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Seattle Genetics Oncology Pipeline

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