Big Impact, Small Package: Debiopharm Launches a Wazoku Open-Innovation Challenge for Small Antibody Drug Conjugate Technology

  • Currently approved Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs) are large molecules (150 kDa) composed of an antibody, a cytotoxic payload, and a linker connecting the two precedent elements
  • Debiopharm has launched an ADC Innovation Challenge to a pool of international “problem Solvers” within the Wazoku global network to propose chemical conjugation methods that apply to small format antibodies
  • The winning proposal will be awarded a monetary prize and be acquired by Debiopharm, a leader in drug development, for further development

Lausanne, Switzerland – September 22nd, 2022 – Debiopharm (, a Swiss-based, global biopharmaceutical company, today announced the launch of a global, open-innovation Challenge to identify an effective method for linking a cytotoxic or traceable payload to small format antibodies, whose crystallizable fragment (Fc) has been removed. To respond to the need to limit non-specific drug action with small fragment ADCs, Debiopharm is employing a collaborative approach, as practiced in their business model, of leveraging the world as a laboratory of innovation. Through Wazoku, an open innovation crowdsourcing platform, the Challenge has been launched globally to participants from various backgrounds, including science, engineering, and technology. This challenge will require the submission of a written proposal directly via the Wazoku Platform before October 15th, 2022.

ADCs are a class of biopharmaceutical drugs designed as a targeted therapy or diagnostic tool known for treating solid and liquid cancers. ADCs are large and complex molecules composed of an antibody, with two Fab and a Fc, linked to a biologically active cytotoxic payload. ADCs are designed to target and kill specific cells while sparing healthy cells. Nonetheless, due to their large size (150 kDa), conventional ADCs are exposed to tumor penetration issues as well as non-specific binding, which ultimately affect the quality of the diagnosis or therapy. Small format antibodies (such as (Fab)2, Fab, scFv, etc.) are significantly smaller and thus penetrate tissues more efficiently. They are also eliminated from the body more rapidly and thus offer an ideal method for diagnostic imaging. Through this Challenge, Debiopharm hopes to develop new non-invasive diagnostic methods and to improve the specificity of Drug Targeting to best preserve healthy tissue. For more information on the “Selective Conjugation Method for Small Format Antibodies” Challenge (ID: 9527228833), visit here.

“With more than 40 years of experience, we have learned that collaboration is key to finding novel solutions to unmet medical needs. Through active open innovation strategies, we want to provide new treatments to cancer patients.” Frederic Levy, Senior Executive Director, Search and Evaluation, Debiopharm.

Specializing in the manufacturing and development of oncology and antibiotic therapies, Debiopharm entered this research collaboration to extend the ADC technologies developed internally, AbYlinkTM and MultilinkTM. The first linker technology allows to selectively attach cytotoxic or traceable payloads to the Fc portion of the antibody while the second linker technology is suited for multidrug attachment. For more information on either delivery technology visit here.

Following the contest’s submission period, the company will evaluate each proposal and provide notification of the winning solution.

About Wazoku

Wazoku is a pioneer in open innovation, crowdsourcing, and innovation at scale. For more than two decades, Wazoku has helped clients deliver sustainable and scalable innovation practices. With our innovation management platform and Wazoku Crowd, organizations can continuously explore opportunities and solve problems – internally and externally. For more information, please visit

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Debiopharm aims to develop innovative therapies that target high unmet medical needs in oncology and bacterial infections. Bridging the gap between disruptive discovery products and real-world patient reach, we identify high-potential compounds and technologies for in-licensing, clinically demonstrate their safety and efficacy, and then select large pharmaceutical commercialization partners to maximize patient access globally.

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