Ossianix, partnered with Lundbeck, is developing shark antibodies that can help therapeutics cross the blood brain barrier.
Ossianix develops shark-inspired antibody fragments, VNARs, with outstanding properties thanks to their small size and high solubility. The company has now received a milestone payment from Danish pharma Lundbeck for the development of the technology as a delivery method for therapeutic antibodies through the blood-brain barrier (BBB).
When attached to antibodies that target molecules in the brain, a VNAR that targets the BBB transferrin receptor can act as a Trojan horse. The antibody, which cannot cross the BBB on its own, is now able to reach its target with the help of a VNAR.
Targeting the brain is still a major challenge for central nervous system biologicals due to the blood-brain barrier. It is therefore not surprising that Lundbeck decided to invest in Ossianix back in 2012 and start a collaboration in 2014.
In addition to BBB-crossing biologics, Ossianix develops VNARs as therapeutics thanks to their ability to bind targets that are not accessible for small molecules or human antibodies. Besides a BBB-crossing CD20 antibody for multiple sclerosis and cerebral lymphoma, its portfolio includes treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Clostridium botulinum‘s neurotoxin, chronic pain, neurodegeneration and obesity.
Nature is an incredibly diverse source of inspiration, with more and more innovative solutions coming from tracing back the evolutionary origins of antibodies. Ablynx, in Belgium, develops llama-inspired nanobodies with unique properties.
Ossianix takes the concept a step further; sharks are the most ancient animals with an adaptive immune similar to that of humans. Therefore, their properties are unique and could eventually lead to new ways to target what until now were undruggable targets.
Images from Isaac Mok/Shutterstock, Ossianix