Zymeworks could get up to $485M in expanded Daiichi I-O deal

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The Azymetric technology works by doubling up on a drug’s potential target, offering a complementary approach to the Efect platform, a library of antibody Fc modifications that can be used to orchestrate an immune response: either turning it up or tamping it down. (rawpixel)

When Zymeworks and Daiichi Sankyo initially teamed up on bispecific antibodies in 2016, they kept the financial details under wraps. Now, the pair is entering a new license agreement that could potentially be worth $484.7 million.

Under the original deal, Zymeworks licensed its Azymetric and Efect platforms to Daiichi Sankyo to develop a bispecific antibody therapy, for which Zymeworks is eligible to pick up milestone payments and royalties. It also received a license to certain immuno-oncology antibodies from Daiichi with the right to research, develop and market multiple bispecific products in exchange for royalties.

The new agreement sees the Vancouver-based biotech granting the Japanese pharma two more licenses for an upfront technology access fee of $18 million. It stands to receive up to $466.7 in clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, with tiered royalties also up for grabs.

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“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,” said Ali Tehrani, Ph.D., president and CEO of Zymeworks. “Having already used our platforms to discover one bispecific antibody, Daiichi Sankyo now has increased access to our technology to create additional therapeutic candidates. We are pleased to be working with a healthcare pioneer with a proven track record of over 100 years of innovation leading to major breakthroughs in patient care.”

The Azymetric technology works by doubling up on a drug’s potential target, offering a complementary approach to the Efect platform, a library of antibody Fc modifications that can be used to orchestrate an immune response: either turning it up or tamping it down.

Zymeworks has been on a dealmaking roll over the past few years. This includes an agreement with Janssen last November around six bispecific antibodies that saw it pick up $50 million up front, with another potential $282 million in development milestones and up to $1.12 billion in sales payments. Also in 2017, Zymeworks inked an R&D pact with The University of Victoria and BC Cancer Agency to develop engineered cytokine and cytokine receptor pairs.