Genzyme is joining Ablynx’ partner list, which already includes AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eddingpharm, Merck & Co, Merck Serono and Novartis. The Sanofi subsidiary now wants to try out the Nanobody technology of Ablynx against a target at the origin of multiple sclerosis. 

Genzyme wants to investigate nanobodies against a target that specifically aligns with Genzyme’s early-stage multiple sclerosis research programs involving neuroprotection and central nervous system repair. The neurodegeneration observed in multiple sclerosis is not directly targeted by existing treatments and with the single-domains antibodies developed by Ablynx, Genzyme is expecting to answer a pressing medical need.

Under the terms of the agreement, Genzyme will have the right to perform in vitro and in vivo research with Ablynx’s Nanobodies in preclinical studies in return of an exclusivity fee. After completion of these studies, Genzyme will have the possibility to negotiate a license agreement. According to Ablynx, the Nanobodies have already shown promising results against the specific target of interest and confirmed their activity in pre-clinical models.

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The Nanobody technology  platform aims at creating new single variable domain antibodies derived from the llama immune-system.  arGEN-X, another European company developing the same kind of technology, just announced a partnership in Dermatology with LEO pharma. This just goes to show the enormous potential of these antibodies.

Ablynx’s flagship product caplacizumab is expected to go through a Phase III by mid-2015 and hopes to be approved by the EU by 2017. Ablynx’ technology is also attracting many Big Pharma companies making the Belgian Biotech financially dependent of milestone results.

A few days ago Merck Serono broke several of its deals with Ablynx. As only solution to compensate the loss, Ablynx just issued €100M of convertible bonds to continue the development of its leading product caplacizumab and other of its owned molecules.

The deal with Genzyme is still at an early stage, but could be of great help if this target proves to be of interest for Genzyme. This will also be a good opportunity to broaden the potential of Nanobodies in Neurology and outside of its first focus.

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