Drug Research
Drug Discovery & Development

Zymeworks, Daiichi Sankyo expand immuno-oncology partnership

Published 15 May 2018

Zymeworks and Daiichi Sankyo have entered into a new license agreement, building upon their cross-licensing and collaboration agreement signed in 2016.

Daiichi Sankyo oncology research and development global head and executive vice president Dr Antoine Yver said: “With a successful track record and our first bispecific antibody incorporating the Azymetric and EFECT technology having achieved a key research milestone in 2017, we look forward to adding two more bispecific compounds to our pipeline.

“We are exceptionally impressed with the robust impact that Zymeworks’ technology brings to antibody development.”

Under the terms of the second agreement, Daiichi Sankyo will acquire licenses to Zymeworks’ Azymetric and EFECT technology platforms to develop two additional bispecific antibody therapeutics.

In exchange, Zymeworks will receive an upfront technology access fee of US$18 million and may receive up to US$466.7 million in potential clinical, regulatory and commercial milestone payments. In addition, Zymeworks will receive up to double-digit tiered royalties on global product sales.

Zymeworks president and CEO Dr Ali Tehrani said: “Expanding our relationship with a leading global pharmaceutical partner like Daiichi Sankyo is extremely satisfying as it underscores the power, versatility, and attractiveness of our technology platforms.”

Zymeworks and Daiichi Sankyo began working together in September 2016 through an agreement to develop one bispecific antibody therapeutic for which Zymeworks is eligible to receive preclinical, clinical, and commercial milestones payments, as well as up to double-digit tiered royalties on global product sales.

Additionally, Zymeworks obtained a license to certain immuno-oncology antibodies from Daiichi Sankyo, with the right to research, develop, and commercialize multiple bispecific products globally in exchange for royalties on global product sales.

The Azymetric platform enables the transformation of monospecific antibodies into bispecific antibodies, giving them the ability to simultaneously bind two different targets. Azymetric bispecific technology enables the development of multifunctional biotherapeutics that can block multiple signaling pathways, recruit immune cells to tumors, enhance receptor clustering and degradation, and increase tumor-specific targeting. These features are intended to enhance efficacy while reducing toxicities and the potential for drug-resistance.

Azymetric bispecifics 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 with high yields and purity, with the potential to significantly reduce drug development costs and timelines.

The EFECT platform is a library of antibody Fc modifications engineered to modulate the activity of the antibody-mediated immune response, which includes both the up- and down-regulation of effector functions. This platform, which is compatible with traditional monoclonal as well as Azymetric bispecific antibodies, further enables the customization of therapeutic responses for different diseases.

Source: Company Press Release