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JPMorgan Healthcare Conference Highlights: ImmunoGen

Sean Williams
January 8, 2013

The JPMorgan Healthcare Conference currently under way in San Francisco is arguably the most important event of the entire year for the health care sector. This is one of the rarest opportunities for biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies to open up about where they've been and where they're headed, so it pays to take notice.

One company that presented yesterday that I had my keen eye on is ImmunoGen (NASDAQ: IMGN). ImmunoGen develops a proprietary technology known as targeted antibody payload, or TAP, that allows a chemotherapy toxin to be carried on an antibody until it comes into contact with a very specific protein produced by a targeted cancer cell; then it releases the toxin. There are very, very few biotechs focused on toxin payload delivery methods like this, with Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN) and its various antibody-drug conjugates being the other. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) in 2010 even tried its luck with a TAP-type drug known as Mylotarg, but couldn't get the toxin to stay attached to the antibody. In short, the technology is amazing -- the successes few and far between!

As expected, during yesterday's presentation we heard that ImmunoGen fully expects U.S. and European approval for T-DM1 -- its HER2-positive breast cancer drug developed with Roche (NASDAQOTH: RHHBY) -- early in 2013. Considering that it reduced overall death risk relative to the placebo by 32% and extended overall median survival to 30.9 months, versus the 25.1 months delivered by GlaxoSmithKli