Zymeworks Announces New Multispecific Antibody Collaboration with Merck
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- Published on Thursday, 09 July 2020 16:55
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VANCOUVER, Canada I July 08, 2020 I Zymeworks Inc. (NYSE: ZYME), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing multifunctional biotherapeutics, today announced that it and longtime partner, Merck (known as MSD outside the US and Canada) have signed a new license agreement granting Merck the right to develop additional multispecific antibody therapeutic candidates using Zymeworks’ Azymetric™ and EFECT™ platforms.
Under the terms of the new research and license agreement, Zymeworks will provide Merck a worldwide, royalty-bearing license to research, develop and commercialize up to three new multispecific antibodies toward Merck’s therapeutic targets. In exchange, Zymeworks will receive an undisclosed upfront payment and if each of the three programs yield an approved product, Zymeworks is eligible to receive up to US$411 million in option exercise fees and clinical development and regulatory approval milestone payments and up to US$480 million in commercial milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties on worldwide sales.
Merck will also receive a worldwide, royalty-bearing license to research, develop and commercialize up to three multispecific antibodies in the animal health field in exchange for additional milestone payments and tiered royalties.
“It is an exciting time for the field of bispecific and multispecific therapeutics with candidates like ZW25 demonstrating great promise in clinical trials,” said Ali Tehrani, Ph.D., President and CEO of Zymeworks. “We are very proud that oncology leaders like Merck recognize the value of our therapeutic platforms and continue to return for expanded access to our technology. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Merck as they advance additional multispecific candidates towards the clinic.”
Zymeworks and Merck began working together in 2011 to develop bispecific antibodies in a collaboration that was expanded in 2014. The new agreement does not impact the original agreement.
“Zymeworks’ technology plays a significant role in our efforts to identify and develop multispecific antibody therapies,” said Scott Lesley, Ph.D., Vice President of Discovery Biologics, Merck Research Laboratories. “Merck is pleased to continue our collaboration with the Zymeworks team.”
About the Azymetric™ Platform
The Azymetric platform enables the transformation of monospecific antibodies into bispecific and multispecific antibodies, allowing simultaneous binding to several different disease targets. This unique technology enables the development of multifunctional therapeutics that can block multiple signaling pathways, recruit immune cells to tumors, enhance receptor clustering and internalization, and increase tumor-specific targeting. These features are designed to enhance efficacy while reducing toxicities and the potential for drug resistance. Azymetric therapeutics have been engineered to retain the desirable drug-like qualities of naturally occurring antibodies, including low immunogenicity, long half-life and high stability. In addition, they are compatible with standard manufacturing processes that deliver high yields and purity, potentially reducing drug development costs and timelines.
About the EFECT™ Platform
The EFECT platform is a library of antibody Fc modifications engineered to activate or suppress the antibody-mediated immune response. This platform, which is compatible with traditional monoclonal as well as Azymetric bispecific antibodies, further enables the customization and optimization of therapeutic responses for different diseases.
About Zymeworks Inc.
Zymeworks is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of next-generation multifunctional biotherapeutics. Zymeworks’ suite of therapeutic platforms and its fully integrated drug development engine enable precise engineering of highly differentiated product candidates. Zymeworks’ lead clinical candidate, ZW25, is a novel Azymetric™ bispecific antibody currently in Phase 2 clinical development. Zymeworks’ second clinical candidate, ZW49, is a bispecific antibody-drug conjugate currently in Phase 1 clinical development and combines the unique design and antibody framework of ZW25 with Zymeworks’ proprietary ZymeLink™ linker-cytotoxin. Zymeworks is also advancing a deep preclinical pipeline in oncology (including immuno-oncology agents) and other therapeutic areas. In addition, its therapeutic platforms are being leveraged through strategic partnerships with nine biopharmaceutical companies. For more information, visit www.zymeworks.com.