Zymeworks said today it will join with Kairos Therapeutics to codevelop the former’s bi-specific antibodies and the latter’s antibody drug conjugates (ADCs). The value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

As part of the collaboration, Zymeworks made an undisclosed equity investment in Kairos, a spin-out of The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), Canada’s national drug development and commercialization center.

The partnership also gives both privately held companies the option to merge in order to accelerate development of new anti-cancer biotherapeutics.

Zymeworks is working to develop best-in-class Azymetric™ bi-specific antibodies and antibody drug conjugates for the treatment of cancer, as well as autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

“This is an excellent opportunity to leverage the therapeutic potential of ADCs in combination with our Azymetric, AlbuCORE™, and EFECT™ platforms to help us create first-in-class biotherapeutics,” Zymeworks President and CEO Ali Tehrani, Ph.D., said in a statement. “This strategic investment and opportunity to integrate Kairos’ ADC platform and expertise furthers our strategy of acquiring innovative technologies that can augment internal capabilities and accelerate development programs.”

Kairos is developing a pipeline of ADCs based on a proprietary toxin, linker, and site-specific conjugation platform using technology developed at CDRD and licensed to Kairos from CDRD through its commercialization vehicle CDRD Ventures.

The platform, now partnered through numerous collaborations, is designed to enable researchers to develop therapeutics that target cancer with increased potency and efficacy while reducing toxic side effects.

Zymeworks disclosed the collaboration with Kairos on the same day it announced that it closed on a $61.5 million series A mezzanine financing to support advancing its Azymetric therapeutics pipeline.

Zymeworks said proceeds of the financing will support clinical development of its lead therapeutic candidates, ZW25 and ZW33, which the company plans to move into clinical development later this year.

The financing was co-led by new investors BDC Capital and Lumira Capital, with participation by existing Zymeworks investors Eli Lilly, Celgene, CTI Life Sciences Fund, and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. New investors in the financing included Perceptive Advisors, Teralys Capital, Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund, Brace Pharma Capital, Merlin Nexus, and others.

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