Celgene Bets Big on Canada's Zymeworks

Published: Jan 22, 2015

Celgene Bets Big on Canada's Zymeworks
January 21, 2015
By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Canadian biotherapeutics company Zymeworks announced today that is has entered an agreement with Celgene Corporation for the research, development and commercialization of bi-specific antibody therapeutics enabled through its Azymetric platform. Zymeworks is eligible to receive up to $164 million per therapeutic candidate, in addition to an undisclosed upfront payment.

“We are extremely excited to collaborate with Celgene on the development of bi-specific antibodies using the Azymetric platform and believe that this class of biotherapeutics has the potential to create game-changing treatment options for patients with unmet medical needs,” said Ali Tehrani, president amd CEO of Zymeworks. “We believe that the upfront revenue from this collaboration, in combination with Celgene’s meaningful equity investment and the proceeds from our recent financing rounds, will help accelerate Zymeworks’ internal oncology pipeline candidates towards multiple INDs in 2016 and beyond.”

Celgene will have the option to advance bi-specific candidates through clinical development and subsequent commercialization. Zymeworks is set to receive royalties on worldwide net sales.

Bi-specific antibodies that are created through the Azymetric platform are similar to mono-specific antibodies. However, they are able to simultaneously bind to two different targets resulting in additive or synergistic therapeutic responses.

Zymeworks Expands Relationship with Lilly
In October 2014, Zymeworks announced that it would be expanding its existing licensing and collaboration agreement with Eli Lilly and Company . Lilly agreed to an expansion that would require up to $375 million in milestones and other payments.

The initial deal between Zymeworks and Eli Lilly was struck in January 2014, and it was focused on the development of bi-specific antibody therapeutics using the Azymetric platform.

Lilly is a global pharmaceutical company and we are delighted to expand our collaboration to develop novel bi-specific immunotherapies,” said Tehrani, at the time of the announcement. “This expansion of our strategic collaboration speaks to the robustness of our Azymetric platform for the development of innovative biologics. Lilly’s investment in Zymeworks also highlights the strength and promise of our oncology-focused pipeline candidates in helping patients with significant unmet medical needs.”

This extension marked Lilly’s continuous march toward novel cancer therapies. The company also entered an agreement to co-discover and develop cancer-related products with Immunocore in 2014.

“We are pleased to expand our collaboration with Zymeworks to develop potential immunotherapies for those fighting cancer around the world,” said Sue Mahony, senior vice president and president of Lilly Oncology.


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