New licensing agreement provides US$36 million upfront

April 26, 2016 | By: Glen Korstrom |

Vancouver drug developer Zymeworks has landed US$36 million from global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and is eligible to receive up to US$152 million in development and clinical milestone payments, the company announced April 26.

In addition to that money, commercial milestone payments could enable the company to generate up to US$720 million. Combined that would be US$908 million.

The partnership involves Zymeworks’ Azymetric drug discovery platform, which CEO Ali Tehrani explained to Business in Vancouver in January helps the process of “super-charging the body’s immune system to deal with cancer.”

Under the new agreement, GSK will have the option to develop and commercialize multiple Zymeworks drugs.

Last December, Zymeworks and GSK entered into a collaboration and license agreement to further develop Zymeworks’ Effector Function Enhancement and Control Technology (EFECT) platform and to research, develop, and commercialize certain drugs.

Zymeworks has been on a roll.

In January it landed US$61.5 million in a fundraising round co-led by BDC Capital and Lumira Capital.

In 2011, it signed a contract with pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK) that was reportedly worth up to US$187 million.

“We are excited to be expanding our relationship with GSK,” Zymeworks CEO Ali Tehrani said in a release.