ImmunoGen is known for our TAP technology, which we developed in response to the need for better treatments for cancer.
Traditional anticancer drugs lack selectivity for cancer cells. Such
drugs typically work by killing cells that are dividing, regardless of
whether the cell is cancerous or not. As cell division occurs in normal
tissue as well as in tumor tissue, these drugs can be associated with
significant side effects that reduce their ability to be dosed to full
effect, or even to be tolerated at all.
Such issues with traditional anticancer products led to interest in the
use of monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of cancer. Monoclonal antibodies
are manufactured proteins that bind to a specific target antigen on the
surface of a cell. There are antigens that occur in abundance on cancer
cells, but not on normal tissue. Antibodies to such antigens thus bind
selectively to cancer cells.
With some targets, the act of the antibody binding to the antigen interferes
with tumor progression. With many targets however, the binding of the
antibody to the antigen has no significant effect on the cancer.
ImmunoGen developed TAP technology to provide tumor-targeting antibodies
with potent anticancer effects. We attach to the antibody a proprietary
cell-killing agent, the effector molecule. The antibody is
used to deliver the effector molecule selectively to the tumor. Once the
antibody has bound to its target on the cancer cell and been internalized,
the effector molecule is able to kill the cancer cell. Our TAP technology
can increase the cancer-killing ability of antibodies that have intrinsic
anticancer effects. It also can convert cancer-selective antibodies with
no intrinsic activity into potent cancer-killing agents.
Our effector molecules are designed specifically for antibody-directed
delivery to cancer cells. Only a small amount of antibody actually reaches
a cancer cell, so only a small amount of the effector molecule can reach
the cancer cell. Therefore, our effector molecules are highly potent and
thus able to kill cancer cells at low concentrations. For example, our
maytansinoid derivative DM1 is 100- to 10,000-fold more potent than traditional
chemotherapeutic agents. Our effector molecules also can be attached to
the antibody with a chemical bond that is stable in the bloodstream, but
readily broken after the TAP product enters the cancer cell.
We use our technology and expertise internally to develop products. We
also out-license our TAP technology to other companies. As we go forward,
we expect to continue to develop, use, and out-license our TAP technology.
At the same time, it is important to note that there is more to ImmunoGen than TAP technology. We have extensive expertise and capabilities in cancer biology and in the evaluation of potential new targets for cancer treatments from our years of work in this area. We can successfully develop monoclonal antibodies. We also can effectively modify monoclonal antibodies using our proprietary humanization technology to avoid their detection and removal by the human immune system. Additionally, we have significant expertise in functions critical to the advancement of an antibody-based product from laboratory bench to manufacturing, including cell-line development and process development.
We are committed to using our expertise and capabilities to develop important new treatments for cancer through both our internal programs and our partnerships.