Novel Nanobody to begin clinical development in osteoarthritis

Ablynx to receive €15m milestone payment from Merck

Ribbon diagram of a llama VHH domain. Credit: S. Jahnichen, via Wikimedia Commons

Biopharmaceutical company Ablynx has completed the preparation of a pre-clinical package for a novel Nanobody in osteoarthritis.

As part of the ongoing collaboration between Ablynx and Merck on this programme, Merck has accepted the pre-clinical package and this has triggered a €15m milestone payment to Ablynx.

Merck is now responsible for further clinical development of the molecule.

Nanobody / ALX-1141

"Nanobodies" (ALX-1141), or single-domain antibodies, are therapeutic proteins are based on single-domain antibody fragments, which combine the advantages of conventional antibody drugs with some of the features of small-molecule drugs.

Edwin Moses, CEO of Ablynx, said:

“Obtaining pre-clinical proof-of-concept was an important milestone in this collaboration. With no disease-modifying drugs currently approved for osteoarthritis, there is a huge unmet need for new treatments.”

“This Nanobody has the potential to become a first-in-class treatment option for patients suffering from this degenerative joint disease.”

Financial

ALX-1141 is the first clinical candidate to emerge from the collaboration signed in 2011 between Ablynx and Merck to co-discover and co-develop Nanobodies against two targets in osteoarthritis.

Ablynx is eligible for approximately €120m in development, regulatory and commercial milestones plus tiered royalties into double digits upon successful development and approval of the product.

“It is the second Nanobody that is expected to enter clinical development originating from the various alliances between Ablynx and Merck,” said Moses.

“The first is the bi-specific anti-IL17A/F Nanobody for which encouraging results of a Phase Ib study in psoriasis were recently published.”

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