GHENT, Belgium—In an exclusive worldwide collaboration andlicense agreement valued at almost $265 million, Ablynx—which pioneered thediscovery and development of Nanobodies—will work with Ingelheim, Germany-basedpharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim to discover and develop new therapies forAlzheimer's disease..
As part of the deal, Boehringer Ingelheim will begin a jointresearch program that will include Ablynx scientists and will be solelyresponsible for the development, manufacture and commercialization of anyproducts resulting from the collaboration. The deal includes an upfront fee,development and commercial milestones for Ablynx, as well as undisclosedroyalty fees based on net sales.
The work will focus around using Ablynx's Nanobodies, a novelclass of therapeutic proteins, for the potential Alzheimer's therapies. Thecompany's Nanobody portfolio already included Alzheimer's disease applications—alongwith other major disease areas such as inflammation, thrombosis and oncology—andAblynx has generated Nanobodies against more than hundred different diseasetargets, according to Dr. Edwin Moses, CEO of Ablynx.
Ablynx notes that its Nanobodies could be particularlyimportant in developing new Alzheimer's disease treatments, as researchersbelieve they could solve the problems faced by other drugs or conventionaltreatments. "The small size, unique structure and unparalleled stability ofNanobodies combine the advantages of conventional antibody therapeutics withfeatures of small-molecule drugs," Moses says. Also, compared to moretraditional antibody-based treatment, it is believed that Nanobodies may crossthe blood-brain barrier more readily.
"We look forward to working with Ablynx to discover newNanobodies," says Dr. Andreas Barner, vice chairman of BI's board of managingdirectors and head of pharmaceutical research, development and medicine. "Weare very excited about the opportunity to develop new biological entities fortreating Alzheimer's disease based on this powerful and unique technology."
Partnering with Boehringer Ingelheim was important to Ablynxin large part because BI has already gained broad and deep expertise in thefield of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. Also, thecompany's biologic biopharmaceutical capabilities reportedly made them an idealpartner 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 vivoefficacy data from animal studies in five major therapeutic programs. There hasalso been a marked absence of detectable immunogenicity for Ablynx's Nanobody developmentcandidates in advanced primate studies, and the company expects to move itsfirst program into clinical trials early this year