Zymeworks and Daiichi Sankyo Partner to Develop Bi-Specific Antibodies for Cancer Patients

Zymeworks and Daiichi Sankyo Partner to Develop Bi-Specific Antibodies for Cancer Patients

Zymeworks and Daiichi Sankyo recently announced that they have entered into a cross-licensing and collaboration agreement to develop proprietary cancer immuno-oncology products, including bi-specific antibodies.

Under the terms of the contract, Daiichi Sankyo will get a license to Zymeworks’ Azymetric platform, intended as the best-in-class solution for the development of novel bi-specific antibodies to target two distinct disease drivers with one single monoclonal antibody.

The licence also includes the acquisition of the Effector Function Enhancement and Control Technology (EFECT) platform, which comprises a library of Fc modifications that can selectively modulate the activity of recruited immune cells, including their up- and down-regulation.

Zymeworks develops protein-based therapeutics for the treatment of cancer, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases. ZW25, its lead therapeutic based on its Azymetric platform, is a novel bi-specific antibody that targets two different specific sites of the HER2 protein.

A Phase 1 clinical trial assessing the safety and efficacy of  ZW25 in advanced or metastatic HER2-positive cancers has just dosed its first patient. The trial (NCT02892123), which is currently recruiting participants, is an open-label, single-group study evaluating the safety and tolerability of ZW25 in patients with locally advanced, unresectable, or metastatic HER2-expressing cancers, including ovarian, breast, gastric, and lung cancers. (More information about the trial is available on its clinical trials.gov website.)

Under the agreement, Zymeworks will receive research support and an upfront technology access fee for both platforms. Upon reaching preclinical, clinical, and commercial milestones, Zymeworks will be eligible to receive payments, in addition to tiered royalties, on global product sales.

In addition, Zymeworks will license immuno-oncology antibodies from Daiichi Sankyo, with the right to research, develop, and market numerous bi-specific products worldwide in exchange for royalties on product sales.

“We are very excited to enter into this cross-licensing agreement with Daiichi Sankyo,” Ali Tehrani, PhD, president and CEO of Zymeworks, said in a recent press release. “The in-licensing component of the transaction will enable Zymeworks to expand its therapeutic pipeline in the near term by accelerating a number of our immuno-oncology programs into the clinic and to ultimately provide more effective and targeted treatments to patients.”

“Targeting two drivers of disease with a single monoclonal antibody is a key scientific advance that may help change the standard of care for patients with cancer,” said Antoine Yver, MD, MSc, executive vice president and global head, Oncology Research and Development, Daiichi Sankyo. “We are looking forward to strengthening our expertise in bi-specific immuno-oncology by working closely with Zymeworks on this collaboration.”