Using camel antibodies as drugs, sounds crazy? Belgian Ablynx is exactly doing that and has been very successful so far. It’s now moving to the next step. It already signed a €1.7Bn deal with Merck & Co. in February 2014 and now upgrades it to a gigantic €5.7Bn!
Ablynx is a biotech company developing Nanobodies for immune-oncology applications. Nanobody technology was originally developed after discovering that Camelidae (like camels and llamas) possess fully functional antibodies that only consist of heavy chains and, therefore, lack in light chains. These heavy-chain antibodies contain a single variable domain and two constant domains. The single variable domains have full antigen binding capacity (like our own antibodies) and are very stable, forming the basis of a new generation of therapeutic molecules which Ablynx has named “Nanobodies”.
Ablynx has been very successful in the past years. So successful that it gets tangled up in partnerships with Big Pharma companies, as we wrote in a previous story! In short, it signed with Boehringer Ingelheim,