Eli Lilly and Zymeworks, a Vancouver-based, privately held biotherapeutics company, are expanding an existing licensing and collaboration agreement. Originally announced in January, the global strategic collaboration is focused on the development of an undisclosed number of novel bi-specific antibody therapeutics using Zymeworks' proprietary Azymetric platform.
Lilly is opting to expand the collaboration by up to potentially $375 million in milestones and other payments, plus tiered sales royalties based on country-by-country intellectual property, and sales to include development of several immuno-modulatory bi-specific antibodies against multiple targets. Zymeworks will receive an initial up-front payment in the form of an equity investment, which will strengthen the strategic relationship between the two companies. The majority of financial terms consist of potential milestone payments predominantly focused on the U.S., Japan and global sales.
Bi-specific antibodies have the potential to provide improved outcomes for patients by simultaneously targeting two proteins resulting in additive or synergistic responses. The collaboration with Zymeworks adds to Lilly's bi-specific antibody and immunotherapy research portfolio. In July, Lilly also announced an agreement to co-discover and co-develop novel cancer therapies with Immunocore.