ImmunoGen breast cancer drug OK’d in Japan

Image taken from company website.
Image taken from company website.

A breast cancer drug developed with technology from Waltham’s ImmunoGen Inc. has won regulatory approval in Japan and has also moved a step closer to approval in Europe, ImmunoGen said in a Friday press release.

Regulatory approval in Japan triggers a $5 million milestone payment to ImmunoGen from Swiss drug maker Roche AG, which used ImmunoGen’s targeted antibody payload technology, or TAP, to develop Kadcyla, the breast cancer drug.

Meanwhile, an advisory panel has just recommended that European regulators approve Kadcyla. The regulators nearly always follow such recommendations, and approval is likely to be granted by the end of the year. That action would trigger another $5 million milestone payment to ImmunoGen.

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In February, the Food and Drug Administration approved Kadcyla for use in the United States.

A Globe story from then noted that Kadcyla is considered a breakthrough treatment because it deploys a potent toxin that combines with an existing drug, Herceptin, to kill breast cancer cells. It could initially benefit as many as 15,000 patients who have a particularly aggressive form of the disease. In the US, Kadcyla will be marketed by Genentech, a unit of Roche, which launched Herceptin in the 1990s as one of the first personalized medicines.

Key components of Kadcyla were developed by ImmunoGen, including a proprietary cancer-killing agent and a “linker” that binds the medicine to a type of chemotherapy drug.