CDRD Spin-Off Company Kairos Therapeutics Merges with Zymeworks

Vancouver, Canada – March 22, 2016: The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) is pleased to announce that its spin-off company, Kairos Therapeutics has successfully completed its merger with Zymeworks Inc., creating one of the industry’s leading biotherapeutics companies.

As Canada’s national drug development and commercialization engine, and a leading global centre in the translation of both biologics and small molecule therapeutics, CDRD is delivering on its mandate to de-risk early-stage technologies and advance them to the point where they can attract private sector investment.

“Our recent success with spin-off company Kairos and its partnership with Zymeworks is a perfect example of CDRD’s ability to rapidly advance early-stage discovery to the point where industry partners are ready to make substantial investments in the technologies,” said Karimah Es Sabar, President and CEO of CDRD. “Our goal is to work with academic researchers and start-up companies to design and develop viable technologies that attract commercial partners to carry them through to market. This is exactly what CDRD was set-up to do – create value and drive an ongoing pipeline of commercial transactions and spin-off companies such as Kairos.”

Earlier this year, Kairos and Zymeworks, both British Columbia-based companies, entered into a strategic partnership and optional merger agreement to develop antibody drug conjugates and bi-specific antibodies – an agreement which is now culminating in the formal merger of these two innovative companies, with the combined entity remaining headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.

With the completion of the merger, John Babcook, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Kairos will join Zymeworks as Senior Vice President of Discovery Research along with the full Kairos team. In addition to the key scientific talent, Kairos brings to Zymeworks a proprietary next-generation antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) platform based on novel toxin, linker, and site-specific conjugation technology developed at CDRD. ADCs are a highly-effective new class of targeted cancer therapeutics.

John Babcook added, “The Kairos team is excited to complete the merger with Zymeworks to significantly enhance our ability to create innovative medicines that make a meaningful impact to lives of patients. Although I am now transitioning to Zymeworks, I look forward to maintaining strong linkages with CDRD and to the two organizations continuing to build on their relationship well into the future. The CDRD platform is proving invaluable in creating and supporting a new generation of leading life sciences companies – and Kairos is just one prime example of that value. It truly is a unique asset for British Columbia and Canada that is having a positive impact on the industry.“

“The completion of this merger is a transformative event for both Zymeworks and Kairos, and brings us closer to our goal of delivering life-changing medicines to patients who need better options,” said Ali Tehrani, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Zymeworks. “Combining Kairos’ superior ADC technology with our platforms, scientific experience, and resources, positions us as a clear leader in the field of biotherapeutics with tremendous potential to discover and bring forth new medicines.”

Kairos Therapeutics is the result of strong public sector support of CDRD by the British Columbia and Canadian Governments, and in particular by Western Economic Diversification Canada whose strategic seed investment directly enabled the establishment of CDRD’s Biologics Division and team in 2011. It was this team, alongside CDRD’s 100+ cross-disciplinary industrial drug developers and commercial experts that developed the ADC platform, and ultimately enabled the spin-off of Kairos. Through the ongoing work of this team, CDRD will continue to generate a pipeline of novel immunotherapies such as monoclonal antibodies and cell based therapeutics for the treatment of cancers and other pressing human disease.

Es Sabar concluded, “CDRD is closer to realizing our vision of a vibrant and fully-optimized global health sciences ecosystem integrating and supporting innovative research, commercialization and care through these kinds of transactions. As a highly inter-related organization that bridges science, innovation, partnerships, training and commercialization, we are creating a new and effective life sciences paradigm, enabling the drug-development continuum to thrive through translation, incubation and acceleration.”

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About The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD)

Headquartered in Vancouver, The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) is Canada’s national drug development and commercialization engine. We work in partnership with academia, industry, government and foundations, and provide the specialized expertise and infrastructure to identify and de-risk promising discoveries, and transform them into commercially viable investment opportunities for the private sector – and ultimately into innovative new therapies for patients. In doing so, CDRD is actively growing our national health sciences industry into a wholly-optimized generator of economic prosperity for the country. Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence Program has recognized CDRD as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR).

Julia White
Communications Manager
Tel: 604-827-1226