Zymeworks Inc (NYSE:ZYME) reported that Merck, also termed as MSD outside the United States and Canada has released formal notification of their plans to develop a bispecific drug candidate into preclinical advancement. The drug candidate was advanced by Merck, through a subsidiary, together with Zymeworks utilizing Zymeworks’ proprietary EFECT™ and Azymetric™ platforms as part of a current Research and License deal between the two firms.
Dr. Ali Tehrani, the CEO and President of Zymeworks, reported that they are thrilled that another one of their collaborators will be working on therapeutic candidate developed on the Azymetric™ platform into preclinical stage. The Azymetric™ platform has obtained clinical validation via company’s lead clinical program named ZW25, and is going as planned to be further assessed in the clinic through its associations with Merck and others as company’s strategic associates continue to make progress.
As per the Research and License deal, Zymeworks has approved Merck a global royalty-bearing license to research, advance and commercialize specific bispecific therapeutic runners toward Merck’s therapeutic targets.
The Azymetric™ platform comprises of a library of amino acid substitutions that allow the change of monospecific antibodies into bispecific antibodies. This allows them the ability to concurrently bind two non-overlapping antigens or epitopes. Azymetric™ bispecific technology allows the advancement of biotherapeutics with dual-targeting of ligands/receptors and simultaneous blockade of numerous signaling pathways, enhancing tumor-specific targeting and efficacy while lowering toxicities and the prospect for drug-resistance.
Moreover, the dual-targeting of Azymetric™ antibodies showed synergistic efficacy in preclinical trials through simultaneous binding pertaining to the application of a comparable dose of the conforming monospecific antibodies.
First-generation bispecific platforms considerably change the structure of monoclonal antibodies or depend upon proprietary and complex manufacturing procedures. Azymetric™ bispecifics, in contrast, keep the desirable drug-like characteristics of monoclonal antibodies, including stability, low immunogenic potential and long half-life, which improves their probability of success. Azymetric™ bispecifics are compatible with standard manufacturing procedures with high yields and purity, which supports manufacturing timelines and lowers costs.
In the last trading session, the stock price of Zymeworks jumped more than 5% to close the day at $9.18.