Eli Lilly, Zymeworks Expand Bi-Specific Antibody Pact
Zymeworks Inc. and Eli Lilly and Company have expanded their existing licensing and collaboration agreement.focused on the development of an undisclosed number of novel bi-specific antibody therapeutics using Zymeworks' proprietary Azymetric platform.
The original agreement was formed in January 2014, and Lilly is opting to expand the collaboration by up to potentially $375 million in milestones and other payments, plus tiered sales royalties based on country-by-country intellectual property, and sales to include development of several immuno-modulatory bi-specific antibodies against multiple targets. Zymeworks will receive an initial up-front payment in the form of an equity investment, which will strengthen the strategic relationship between the two companies. The majority of financial terms consist of potential milestone payments contingent on the achievement of certain development and commercial milestone events predominantly focused on the United States, Japan, and global sales. Further financial terms were not disclosed.
Bi-specific antibodies simultaneously target two proteins resulting in additive or synergistic responses. Bi-specific antibodies developed using the Azymetric platform resemble conventional mono-specific antibodies while incorporating two different Fab domains to bind to different antigens or drug targets. Azymetric antibodies spontaneously assemble into a single molecule comprising two unique heavy and light chain pairs and are manufactured using conventional monoclonal antibody processes. The Azymetric platform can be used to screen target and sequence combinations for bi-specific activities in the final therapeutic format.
This collaboration with Zymeworks adds to Lilly's bi-specific antibody and immunotherapy research portfolio. In July 2014, Lilly also announced an agreement to co-discover and co-develop novel cancer therapies with Immunocore.