B.C. Industry News

Biotechnology Focus Magazine – Zymeworks Inc. and Lilly Subsidiary ImClone Systems to co-develop Bi-specific Antibodies

January 14, 2014

Vancouver-based biotech company Zymeworks Inc. has entered into a licensing and collaboration agreement with ImClone Systems, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company, to develop an undisclosed number of novel bi-specific antibody oncology therapeutics using Zymeworks’ proprietary Azymetricâ„¢ platform.

Under the terms of the agreement, Zymeworks has granted Lilly and its subsidiaries, a worldwide license to the Azymetricâ„¢ platform to develop and commercialize an undisclosed number of bi-specific therapeutic candidates toward Lilly’s therapeutic targets.

How Bi-specific antibodies work

Bi-specific antibodies developed using the Azymetricâ„¢ platform resemble conventional mono-specific antibodies while incorporating two different Fab domains to bind to different antigens or drug targets. Azymetricâ„¢ antibodies spontaneously assemble into a single molecule comprising two unique heavy and light chain pairs. Similar to natural IgG antibodies, therapeutics based on the Azymetricâ„¢ platform retain long serum half-life and the ability to induce effector function and can be manufactured using well established and validated processes. As such, bi-specific antibodies have the potential to provide improved outcomes for patients by simultaneously targeting two tumour-associated antigens to induce a synergistic therapeutic response.

Zymeworks will receive an upfront fee and research support and is eligible to receive research, development, and commercial milestone as well as tiered royalty payments on future product sales. Lilly will have exclusive worldwide commercialization rights to the antibodies derived from the collaboration.

“We are excited to enter into a strategic collaboration with ImClone and its world class biologics team,” said Dr. Ali Tehrani, president and CEO of Zymeworks (pictured above). “This collaboration can help to advance and broaden the therapeutic utility of our novel bi-specific antibody platform and we are looking forward to working together to bring these groundbreaking therapies to the clinic and ultimately to patients with unmet medical needs.”

Zymeworks $15 million private placement financing

In addition to the agreement with ImClone, Zymeworks also announced the completion of a common share offering of approximately $12 million, with additional commitments of approximately $3 million to close subsequently. The financing included investments by both new and existing private shareholders. Zymeworks will use the proceeds to advance its lead oncology candidates through CMC activities and toxicology studies en route to multiple IND filings and subsequent clinical studies. Further financial terms are not disclosed.