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Feature Story

Resurrecting a magic bullet

By Stephen Parmley, Senior Writer

The number of antibody-drug conjugates in development for cancer is still growing, but most have tubulin inhibitor payloads that will limit treatment options if resistance emerges. Heidelberg Pharma GmbH has resurrected a decades-old antibody-drug conjugate payload that uses a different mode of action, and the company hopes its extended deal with Roche can lead to clinical validation. The outcome will likely rest on whether the new technology can solve the toxicity profile that sank the agent the first time around.

In October, Heidelberg Pharma-a subsidiary of Wilex AG-and Roche extended their 2013 deal to apply the biotech's ADC technology to the pharma's antibodies. The new deal brings fees and upfront and milestone payments from Roche that, for the time being, will cover Heidelberg Pharma's operating costs for the research collaboration.

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