Ablynx – the Belgian nanobody biotech (which uses monoclonal antibodies of Alpacas), has now achieved it’s first pre-clinical milestone in its immuno-oncology partnership with MSD (Merck & Co). Now Ablynx has achieved proof of concept for one of the 17 Nanobodies being studied. Ablynx has therefore received the first €3.5M in milestone payments from MSD for use of its Nanobody platform and running of trials to develop these tumor-targeting therapies.
Based in Ghent (Belgium), Ablynx partnered with Merck & Co. (MSD) for a €33M upfront deal made in February last year, with promise of further milestone-related payments to total €1.7Bn down the road. In return, MSD would license out Ablynx’s Camelidae (Alpaca) derived Nanobody platform and have trials run by Ablynx on several pre-selected candidates for research of potential immuno-oncology therapies.
The partnership seemed to thrive and offer great potential for MSD’s weakened pipeline, with MSD then going on to upgrade the partnership to a massive €5.7Bn in July. This extended the program to study a total of 17 Nanobody candidates, which have now been shown to function in targeting tumor-cells at multiple targets – i.e. they are ‘bi-specific’ and in some cases also ‘tri-specific’.
Ablynx are famously well connected in the biotech industry, with many huge pharmas licensing out their Alpaca-nanobody tech. Partnerships include AbbVie (Immunology), Boehringer Ingelheim, Genzyme (Multiple Sclerosis/CNS), Novartis, Merck (in Neurology) and of course MSD (aka Merck & Co.).
Evidently Ablynx’s platform is still hugely desirable in the biotech industry, and will continue to be a real money-spinner if these MSD candidates stay on track for human trials.