GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will use Zymeworks’ Effector Function Enhancement and Control Technology (EFECT™) platform in a collaboration to design and commercialize new Fc-engineered monoclonal and bi-specific antibody drugs. The collaboration could generate up to $440 million-plus for Zymeworks.

The companies agreed to further develop the EFECT platform by designing, engineering, and testing new engineered Fc domains tailored to induce specific antibody-mediated immune responses.

EFECT is a library of antibody Fc modifications engineered to modulate the activity of the antibody-mediated immune response, including both up- and downregulation of effector functions.

The platform is compatible with both traditional monoclonal antibodies, as well as bi-specific antibodies made through Zymeworks’  Azymetric™ platform. Azymetric antibodies are manufactured through conventional monoclonal antibody processes but can also be adapted to rapidly screen target and sequence combinations for bi-specific activities—which according to Zymeworks significantly reduces drug development timelines.

“The collaboration will also allow Zymeworks to combine the novel immune-modulating Fc domains with our Azymetric platform to generate bi-specific antibodies with customized immune modulatory functions,” Zymeworks president and CEO Ali Tehrani, Ph.D., said in a statement.

At the end of the research collaboration, GSK and Zymeworks will both have the right to develop and commercialize monoclonal and bi-specific antibody candidates incorporating the Fc domains.

GSK will have rights to develop a minimum four products across unspecified “multiple disease areas, in return for paying Zymeworks up to $110 million per product tied to achieving preclinical, clinical, and commercial milestones, as well as tiered sales royalties.

The companies said they would not disclose further financial details.

GSK is among a growing list of biopharma giants to sign collaboration agreements with Zymeworks. Celgene agreed to use Azymetric in a bi-specific antibody collaboration launched in January, with Zymeworks eligible for up to $164 million per candidate that reaches the market. Last year Eli Lilly and Zymeworks launched an Azymetric-based collaboration valued at up to $187 million, then expanded their partnership in October 2014 for up to $375 million.

Also last year, Zymeworks and Merck extended a research alliance stretching back to 2011, with Zymeworks granting Merck expanded access to Azymetric for an undisclosed sum.

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