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ImmunoGen stops study of drug candidate for small-cell lung cancer

Citing a “disappointing outcome,” Waltham biotechnology company ImmunoGen Inc. said Tuesday that it is stopping a study of an experimental drug for the treatment of small-cell lung cancer.

The drug candidate is an antibody-drug conjugate dubbed IMGN901. An independent committee monitoring the trial recommended the discontinuation of the study, ImmunoGen said in a press release. The company added that it is updating study investigators and regulatory authorities.

“This is clearly a disappointing outcome, as there is a tremendous need for new treatment options for SCLC (small-cell lung cancer),” Dr. Charles Morris, ImmunoGen executive vice president and chief development officer, said in a statement. “We will be analyzing the findings to date in this trial as part of assessing potential next steps for IMGN901.”

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The release added: “Among the 198 patients receiving IMGN901 as a single agent in early trials, there was one incidence of infection-related death; it was deemed possibly drug related.”

Earlier this year, a breast cancer drug partly developed by ImmunoGen was approved by the Federal Drug Administration. That drug is being sold under the brand name of Kadcyla. Kadcyla is considered a breakthrough treatment because it deploys a potent toxin that combines with an existing drug, Herceptin, to kill breast cancer cells.

ImmunoGen has about 10 drug candidates in the pipeline. It is developing three of those drug candidates by itself and the rest in partnership with pharmaceutical firms.

In a separate Tuesday press release, the company said it was initiating testing of an antibody-drug conjugate that could be a potential new treatment for lung, head, and neck cancers.

ImmunoGen develops targeted anticancer therapeutics. The company’s antibody-drug conjugate technology uses a tumor-targeting engineered antibody to deliver one of ImmunoGen’s highly potent cancer-cell killing agents specifically to tumor cells.

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