OPKO Investee Zebra Biologics Announces Collaboration with AbbVie to Discover New Antibody Therapeutics

MIAMI, Jan. 10, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- (Nasdaq:OPK) —OPKO Investee, Zebra Biologics Inc., an emerging biotechnology company of which OPKO owns approximately 28%, announced it has entered into a collaboration with AbbVie to discover agonist antibody therapeutics for inflammatory diseases. Zebra will use its novel and patented function based antibody discovery platform to generate antibodies that activate biological pathways associated with targets designated by AbbVie. Zebra and AbbVie will collaborate closely on the identification and pre-clinical validation of candidates. AbbVie would then be responsible for clinical development, manufacturing, regulatory approval and world-wide commercialization.

About Agonist Antibodies

To date all clinically approved antibody therapeutics exert their effect by blocking (antagonizing) signaling between ligands and receptors or by neutralizing pathogens. Rare antibody molecules may also activate biochemical pathways, although finding such “agonist” antibodies has proven difficult. As demonstrated in key peer-reviewed publications, the recently developed Zebra screening platform opens up a novel biological function-based approach to screening very large combinatorial antibody or other peptidic libraries for potent and highly selective agonist biologic drugs.

About Zebra Biologics

Zebra is a privately held pre-clinical stage biopharmaceutical company. The Company is pioneering the development of platform technologies that allow cellular function-based screening for the discovery and selection of fully human therapeutic biologics (antibodies, peptides or proteins) from DNA-encoded combinatorial libraries of human antibodies, peptides or “protein-in-proteins”. Applicable for lead discovery across all therapeutic areas and all receptor classes, Zebra has optimized the platform for the highly desirable feature of allowing selection of rare agonist antibodies from very large combinatorial libraries.  

Zebra holds exclusive licenses from the The Scripps Research Institute to both the core platform technology and to current and future candidate therapeutics derived from the platform. Multiple proof of concept examples of the power of Zebra’s platform have been published by the laboratory of Dr. Richard Lerner, a Zebra co-founder and Professor at Scripps, as well as a director of OPKO. Zebra is advancing an internal portfolio of novel full human agonist antibodies and novel highly selective ion-channel blockers.

About OPKO Health, Inc.
OPKO Health is a diversified healthcare company that seeks to establish industry-leading positions in large, rapidly growing markets. Our diagnostics business includes Bio-Reference Laboratories, the nation's third-largest clinical laboratory with a core genetic testing business and a 420-person sales force to drive growth and leverage new products, including the 4Kscore® prostate cancer test and the Claros® 1 in-office immunoassay platform. Our pharmaceutical business features RAYALDEE, an FDA-approved treatment for SHPT in stage 3-4 CKD patients with vitamin D insufficiency (launched in November 2016), VARUBI™ for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (oral formulation launched by partner TESARO and IV formulation PDUFA date: January 2017), TT401, a once or twice weekly oxyntomodulin for type 2 diabetes and obesity which is a clinically advanced drug candidate among the new class of GLP-1 glucagon receptor dual agonists, and TT701, an androgen receptor modulator for androgen deficiency indications.  Our biologics business includes hGH-CTP, a once-weekly human growth hormone injection (in phase 3 and partnered with Pfizer), a long-acting Factor VIIa drug for hemophilia (in phase 2a) and a long-acting oxyntomodulin for diabetes and obesity (in phase 1). We also have production and distribution assets worldwide, multiple strategic investments and an active business development strategy. More information is available at www.opko.com.


This press release contains "forward-looking statements," as that term is defined under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA), which statements may be identified by words such as "expects," "plans," "projects," "will," "may," "anticipates," "believes," "should," "intends," "estimates," and other words of similar meaning, including statements regarding expected benefits of the Zebra and AbbVie collaboration, whether the collaboration will yield any viable clinical candidates or commercial drug products, whether OPKO will benefit from its investment in Zebra, as well as other non-historical statements about our expectations, beliefs or intentions regarding our business, technologies and products, financial condition, strategies or prospects. Many factors could cause our actual activities or results to differ materially from the activities and results anticipated in forward-looking statements. These factors include those described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as the risks inherent in funding, developing and obtaining regulatory approvals of new, commercially-viable and competitive products and treatments. In addition, forward-looking statements may also be adversely affected by general market factors, competitive product development, product availability, federal and state regulations and legislation, the regulatory process for new products and indications, manufacturing issues that may arise, patent positions and litigation, among other factors. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date the statements were made, and we do not undertake any obligation to update forward-looking statements. We intend that all forward-looking statements be subject to the safe-harbor provisions of the PSLRA.



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Source: OPKO Health Inc.