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Lilly, Zymeworks Expand Strategic Licensing and Collaboration Agreement

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Originally announced in January 2014, the global strategic collaboration is focused on the development of an undisclosed number of novel bi-specific antibody therapeutics using Zymeworks’ proprietary Azymetric™ platform.

Today, Lilly is opting to expand the collaboration by up to potentially US $375 million in milestones and other payments, plus tiered sales royalties based on country-by-country intellectual property, and sales to include development of several immuno-modulatory bi-specific antibodies against multiple targets. Zymeworks will receive an initial up-front payment in the form of an equity investment, which will strengthen the strategic relationship between the two companies. The majority of financial terms consist of potential milestone payments contingent on the achievement of certain development and commercial milestone events predominantly focused on the United States, Japan and global sales. Further financial terms were not disclosed.

Bi-specific antibodies have the potential to provide improved outcomes for patients by simultaneously targeting two proteins resulting in additive or synergistic responses.

“We are pleased to expand our collaboration with Zymeworks to develop potential immunotherapies for those fighting cancer around the world. There are many targets involved in the controlled activation and redirection of the immune system and we know that immunotherapies will not be a one-size-fits-all treatment,” said Sue Mahony, senior vice president and president, Lilly Oncology. “In addition to immunotherapy programs, Lilly has a robust oncology pipeline that includes both small molecules and monoclonal antibodies, which are being studied to treat a wide range of cancers.”

“Lilly is a global pharmaceutical company and we are delighted to expand our collaboration to develop novel bi-specific immunotherapies. This expansion of our strategic collaboration speaks to the robustness of our Azymetric™ platform for the development of innovative biologics,” said Ali Tehrani, president and CEO of Zymeworks. “Lilly’s investment in Zymeworks also highlights the strength and promise of our oncology-focused pipeline candidates in helping patients with significant unmet medical needs.”

This collaboration with Zymeworks adds to Lilly’s bi-specific antibody and immunotherapy research portfolio. In July 2014, Lilly also announced an agreement to co-discover and co-develop novel cancer therapies with Immunocore.