Zymeworks and Merck announced a deal whereby the former's platform technology for the development of bi-specific antibodies will be applied to cancers and autoimmune diseases. Zymeworks will receive an upfront payment (undisclosed) and have a shot at milestones and royalties that could reach $187 million.
Bi-specific antibodies have binding sites that can recognize two different targets. The Zymeworks platform provides the means to engineer unique antibodies against multiple targets on a single cell. The proteins can also be engineered to circulate longer in the bloodstream or to induce a stronger immune response.
Merck made a good partner for Zymeworks as it provided some proof of principal data, upfront cash and credibility to draw more investors. It also can complement Zymeworks protein engineerign knowledge with its own drug development expertise and understanding of biology. Now they both have to make it work as a producers of therapeutics. See Xconomy and Fierce Biotech.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Aug 30th 2011.