AbbVie Inc has announced the acquisition of ImmunoGen (NASDAQ:IMGN) for $10.1 billion in cash - a deal that takes it into the world of antibody-drug conjugates (ADC), which target cancer cells more precisely, potentially reducing harm to healthy cells.
The deal is part of AbbVie's strategy to diversify its portfolio as its best-selling drug, Humira, faces increasing competition, but it also throws the spotlight on other companies working on ADC technology.
In the US, there was a flurry of buying activity across the sector on the back of AbbVie's swoop.
Here in the UK, shares in BiVictriX Therapeutics PLC were steady in early trade at 11.4p. It has developed its own ADC platform called Bi-Cygni, and has programmes targeting acute myeloid leukaemia, and latterly solid tumours with a focus on ovarian cancer.
Research by JP Morgan underlined the scale of the opportunity on offer for the micro-cap life sciences companies developing the next wave of ADC treatments.
Looking at market leader AstraZeneca PLC (LSE:AZN), it pointed out its two ADC-based cancer treatments, Enhertu and DS-1062, are expected to have peak sales of US$20 billion, a note penned by analysts at the Wall Street bank predicts.