ImmunoGen Shares Rise After Drug Delays Cancer Worsening

ImmunoGen Inc. rose the most in a month after partner Roche Holding AG said a breast cancer drug delayed the disease worsening in a patient study.

ImmunoGen climbed 4.7 percent to $14.39 at the close of trading in New York, its biggest one-day gain since Feb. 23. The Waltham, Massachusetts-based company has gained 62 percent in the past 12 months.

Patients who received the medicine, T-DM1, lived “significantly” longer without their disease progressing compared with those who received a combination of GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s Tykerb and Roche’s Xeloda, Basel, Switzerland-based Roche said in a statement today. Roche is developing T-DM1 with technology it licensed from ImmunoGen.

The trial hasn’t been running long enough to show whether the drug also extended women’s lives, Roche said. Roche said it plans to apply for regulatory approval for T-DM1, also known as trastuzumab emtansine, in Europe and the U.S. this year.

“This lends further credibility to Roche’s ability to protect and increase its breast cancer revenues despite the likely appearance of biosimilar Herceptin,” analysts led by Mark Purcell at Barclays Capital wrote in a note today.

Biosimilars are lower-cost versions of complex drugs made from living organisms.

The treatment combines Roche’s Herceptin, which brought in $6 billion in 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, with an older chemotherapy.

T-DM1 is a so-called “armed antibody” that combines Herceptin with DM1, which is derived from an old chemotherapy medicine called maytansine. That drug was found to be too toxic for patients in clinical trials two decades ago. ImmunoGen’s technology enabled chemists to fuse DM1 to Herceptin in such a way that it isn’t activated until Herceptin shepherds it directly to the cancer cell.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected a request in 2010 to accelerate the regulatory process.

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