Zymeworks, a privately held biotherapeutics company based in Vancouver, has formed a collaboration and licensing agreement with Celgene for the research, development and commercialization of bi-specific antibody therapeutics enabled using Zymeworks’ proprietary Azymetric platform.
Zymeworks and Celgene will collaborate on the R&D of multiple bi-specific antibodies based on the Azymetric platform. Celgene will have the option to advance the resulting bi-specific candidates through clinical development and subsequent commercialization. Zymeworks will receive an initial upfront payment, as well as an equity investment from Celgene. Zymeworks is eligible to receive clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones on successful candidates totaling up to $164 million per therapeutic candidate. Additionally, Zymeworks will receive royalties on worldwide net sales. Further financial details are not disclosed.
“We are extremely excited to collaborate with Celgene on the development of bi-specific antibodies using the Azymetric platform and believe that this class of biotherapeutics has the potential to create game-changing treatment options for patients with unmet medical needs,” said Ali Tehrani, Ph.D., president and CEO of Zymeworks. “We believe that the upfront revenue from this collaboration, in combination with Celgene’s meaningful equity investment and the proceeds from our recent financing rounds, will help accelerate Zymeworks’ internal oncology pipeline candidates towards multiple INDs in 2016 and beyond.”
Bi-specific antibodies developed using the Azymetric platform resemble conventional mono-specific antibodies while being able to simultaneously bind to two different targets resulting in additive or synergistic therapeutic responses. Azymetric antibodies spontaneously assemble into a single molecule with two different Fab domains comprising of unique heavy and light chain pairings.
Azymetric antibodies are manufactured using conventional monoclonal antibody processes and also can be easily adapted to rapidly screen target and sequence combinations for bi-specific activities in the final therapeutic format thereby significantly reducing drug development timelines.