Antibody-drug conjugate market happenings

June 21, 2023
Recently, the pharma stage has been lit up with ADC deal-making

It's been 23 years since the FDA approved the first antibody-drug conjugate. While the cancer-destroying modality struggled initially with dosage and toxicity issues, conjugation technology, as well as drugmaker experience, has come a long way. 

With many of the initial kinks smoothed, pharma’s stage has been lit up with ADC deal-making. According to data from Citeline's Biomedtracker, between January 2018 and March 2023, there were approximately 100 publicly disclosed licensing deals that included ADC assets.

Here are a few notable recent market happenings:

JUNE 2023

Lonza buys Synaffix in $107M deal: Swiss CDMO Lonza announced that it would be acquiring Synaffix, a Netherlands-based ADC-focused biotech. Synaffix's clinical stage platform was awarded Best ADC Platform Technology at World ADC Awards ceremony in 2020.

MAY 2023

AstraZeneca, LaNova Medicines sign $600M partnership: AstraZeneca has entered a license agreement with Shanghai-based LaNova Medicines. Per the deal, the drugmaker will receive global license to research, develop and commercialize LaNova’s GPRC5D-targeting antibody-drug conjugate, the second to emerge from the company’s proprietary ADC platform.Eisai, BlissBio ink $2B collaboration: Eisai and China-based Bliss Biopharmaceutical announced a clinical trial collaboration agreement — with the option to license — for BlissBio's ADC candidate directed against Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 (HER2) for the treatment of cancers.

APRIL 2023

BMS enters potential $1B deal with Tubulis: BMS will gain exclusive rights to access the German biotech's Tubutecan payloads in combination with Tubulis’ proprietary P5 conjugation platform for the development of a selected number of highly differentiated ADCs to treat solid tumors.

Pyramid Bio signs $1.2B licensing deal with GeneQuantum: Pyramid Biosciences has signed a deal with China-based GeneQuantum Healthcare to develop and commercialize a potential best-in-class ADC targeting TROP2, a cell surface glycoprotein that is highly expressed in a variety of tumors including breast, lung, pancreatic, ovarian and prostate.

Takeda to license Innate Pharma ADCs for celiac disease: Japan-based Takeda has inked a deal for exclusive worldwide rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize ADCs using a panel of selected Innate Pharma antibodies against an undisclosed target, with a primary focus in Celiac disease.

BioNTech inks potential $1.7B DualityBio deal: BioNTech has signed a deal with China-based biotech DualityBio to co-develop and commercialize two cancer ADCs, adding an additional drug class to BioNTech’s oncology portfolio.

MARCH 2023

Synaffix, MacroGenics expand next-gen partnershipAmsterdam-based biotech Synaffix has expanded its ADC partnership with U.S. biopharma MacroGenics, pushing the potential payments to $2.2 billion. 

Pfizer buys Seagen for $43B:In the largest pharma deal of the year, Pfizer will acquire ADC technology pioneer Seagen for a total enterprise value of $43 billion. 


AstraZeneca inks potential $1.1B licensing deal with KYM BiosciencesAstraZeneca and China-based KYM Biosciences have inked a global exclusive license agreement for a potential first-in-class ADC targeting Claudin 18.2 — a promising therapeutic target in gastric cancer. 


Merck KGaA, Mersana sign potential $830M collab: A Merck KGaA subsidiary has signed a deal that will focus on discovering novel STING-agonist ADCs for up to two targets leveraging Mersana’s proprietary immunostimulatory platform.

Amgen signs $1.25B R&D collab with LegoChem Biosciences: South Korean-based LegoChem has entered a research collaboration and license agreement with Amgen to develop up to 5 investigational ADCs.

Merck wagers $9.3B in Kelun-Biotech licensing deal: China-based Kelun-Biotech has granted Merck exclusive global licenses to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize multiple investigational preclinical ADC therapies and exclusive options to obtain additional licenses to ADC candidates.


IGM, ADC Therapeutics enter clinical trial partnership: IGM Biosciences and ADC Therapeutics have entered into a clinical trial collaboration and supply agreement to evaluate the combination of imvotamab, IGM’s novel IgM CD20 x CD3 T-cell engaging bispecific antibody, and Zynlonta, ADC Therapeutics’ CD19-directed ADC, for the treatment of patients with relapsed/refractory B cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

APRIL 2021

Sterling buys ADC Biotech: Global CDMO Sterling Pharma will buy ADC Bio, a UK based bioconjugation development services business specializing in ADCs for an undisclosed amount.


Merck buys VelosBio for $2.8B:  The acquisition strengthens Merck’s oncology pipeline with VLS-101, an investigational ADC to treat hematological malignancies and solid tumors.


Gilead buys Immunomedics for $21BThe acquisition will give Gilead access to NJ-based Immunomedics’ Trodelvy, which was developed to treat an aggressive form of breast cancer.

About the Author

Karen P. Langhauser | Chief Content Director, Pharma Manufacturing

Karen currently serves as Pharma Manufacturing's chief content director.

Now having dedicated her entire career to b2b journalism, Karen got her start writing for Food Manufacturing magazine. She made the decision to trade food for drugs in 2013, when she joined Putman Media as the digital content manager for Pharma Manufacturing, later taking the helm on the brand in 2016.

As an award-winning journalist with 20+ years experience writing in the manufacturing space, Karen passionately believes that b2b content does not have to suck. As the content director, her ongoing mission has been to keep Pharma Manufacturing's editorial look, tone and content fresh and accessible.

Karen graduated with honors from Bucknell University, where she majored in English and played Division 1 softball for the Bison. Happily living in NJ's famed Asbury Park, Karen is a retired Garden State Rollergirl, known to the roller derby community as the 'Predator-in-Chief.'