Vancouver, Canada (June 24, 2016) – Zymeworks Inc., a leader in the development of bi-specific antibodies, multivalent protein therapeutics, and antibody drug conjugates, announced today that it has entered into a research collaboration with the University of Victoria and the BC Cancer Agency to develop engineered cytokine and cytokine receptor pairs. Under the agreement, Zymeworks, University of Victoria investigator Martin Boulanger, PhD, and University of Victoria/BC Cancer Agency investigator Brad Nelson, PhD, will collaborate to engineer variant forms of cytokine-receptor complexes to allow precise control of cellular signaling events. Engineered cytokine-receptor pairs will be designed using Zymeworks’ proprietary ZymeCAD™ protein modeling and engineering technology, and further characterized at the University of Victoria and the BC Cancer Agency.
“Zymeworks strongly believes in investing in academic collaborations to drive the development of new innovations,” said Dr. Ali Tehrani, President and CEO of Zymeworks. “We are particularly excited to be working with Dr. Boulanger and Dr. Nelson given their deep expertise in biophysical protein characterization, cytokine signaling, and cell-based therapies. Our ZymeCAD™ technology is an ideal tool for designing novel cytokine and cytokine receptor pairs, and will allow us to build a platform for researching ways to control cellular signalling events. Ultimately, this will enable us to design more effective treatments in multiple therapeutic areas, including cell therapy for advanced cancers and stem cell transplantation.”
“Cancer immunotherapy is the hottest area in current oncology research because it is yielding incredible clinical responses against many types of cancer,” said Dr. Nelson. “This project is focused on a new cell engineering strategy that will allow precise and potent targeting of cancer cells by the immune system, and ultimately will give physicians new tools to achieve exquisite control over the immune response to cancer.”
The research collaboration is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through funds awarded to University of Victoria under NSERC’s Collaborative Research and Development Grants program. Under the terms of the agreement, Zymeworks has an option to further develop and commercialize products based upon the results of the research.
About Zymeworks Inc.
Zymeworks is a privately held biotherapeutics company that is developing best-in-class Azymetric™ bi-specific antibodies and antibody drug conjugates for the treatment of cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The company’s novel Azymetric™, AlbuCORE™, and EFECT™ platforms, its Zymelink™ conjugation platform and cytotoxins, and its proprietary ZymeCAD™ structure-guided protein engineering technology, enable the development of highly potent bi-specific antibodies, multivalent protein therapeutics, and antibody drug conjugates across a range of indications. Zymeworks is focused on accelerating its preclinical biotherapeutics pipeline through in-house research and development programs and strategic collaborations.
David Poon, Ph.D.
Executive Director, External R&D and Alliances