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.