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GHENT, Belgium—In an exclusive worldwide collaboration and license agreement valued at almost $265 million, Ablynx—which pioneered the discovery and development of Nanobodies—will work with Ingelheim, Germany-based pharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim to discover and develop new therapies for Alzheimer's disease..
As part of the deal, Boehringer Ingelheim will begin a joint research program that will include Ablynx scientists and will be solely responsible for the development, manufacture and commercialization of any products resulting from the collaboration. The deal includes an upfront fee, development and commercial milestones for Ablynx, as well as undisclosed royalty fees based on net sales.
The work will focus around using Ablynx's Nanobodies, a novel class of therapeutic proteins, for the potential Alzheimer's therapies. The company's Nanobody portfolio already included Alzheimer's disease applications—along with other major disease areas such as inflammation, thrombosis and oncology—and Ablynx has generated Nanobodies against more than hundred different disease targets, according to Dr. Edwin Moses, CEO of Ablynx.
Ablynx notes that its Nanobodies could be particularly important in developing new Alzheimer's disease treatments, as researchers believe they could solve the problems faced by other drugs or conventional treatments. "The small size, unique structure and unparalleled stability of Nanobodies combine the advantages of conventional antibody therapeutics with features of small-molecule drugs," Moses says. Also, compared to more traditional antibody-based treatment, it is believed that Nanobodies may cross the blood-brain barrier more readily.
"We look forward to working with Ablynx to discover new Nanobodies," says Dr. Andreas Barner, vice chairman of BI's board of managing directors and head of pharmaceutical research, development and medicine. "We are very excited about the opportunity to develop new biological entities for treating Alzheimer's disease based on this powerful and unique technology."
Partnering with Boehringer Ingelheim was important to Ablynx in large part because BI has already gained broad and deep expertise in the field of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. Also, the company's biologic biopharmaceutical capabilities reportedly made them an ideal partner for helping to maximize the therapeutic potential of Nanobodies. That potential is already substantial, Moses indicates, noting that his company and its collaborators have obtained encouraging in vivo efficacy data from animal studies in five major therapeutic programs. There has also been a marked absence of detectable immunogenicity for Ablynx's Nanobody development candidates in advanced primate studies, and the company expects to move its first program into clinical trials early this year