Ablynx, a biopharmaceutical company with headquarters in Ghent, Belgium, is engaged in the discovery and development of Nanobodies® to treat a range of serious human diseases. Nanobodies® are a novel class of antibody-derived therapeutic proteins. Because of their small size, unique structure and extreme stability, Nanobodies® combine the advantages of conventional antibody therapeutics with the key features of small-molecule drugs.

The power of Ablynx's discovery platform has resulted in a Nanobody® development candidate. Ablynx’s lead programme,

ALX-0081, became the first ever single domain antibody to enter clinical trials and Ablynx reported the final positive results from its Phase I study in December 2007. Following these positive results, Ablynx has initiated a Phase Ib multiple-dose study in May 2008, directly in the target patient population rather than healthy volunteers for ALX-0081.

Nanobodies® are antibody-derived therapeutic proteins that contain the unique structural and functional properties of naturally-occurring heavy-chain antibodies. The Nanobody® technology was originally developed following the discovery that camelidae (camels and llamas) possess fully functional antibodies that lack light chains. These heavy-chain antibodies contain a single variable domain (VHH) and two constant domains (CH2 and CH3). Importantly, the cloned and isolated VHH domain is a perfectly stable polypeptide harbouring the full antigen-binding capacity of the original heavy-chain antibody. These newly discovered VHH domains with their unique structural and functional properties form the basis of a new generation of therapeutic antibodies which Ablynx has named Nanobodies®.

Ablynx’s Nanobodies® combine the advantages of conventional antibodies with important features of small molecule drugs. Like conventional antibodies, Nanobodies® show: high target specificity, high affinity for their target, low inherent toxicity.

However, like small molecule drugs they have the opportunity to inhibit enzymes and readily access receptor clefts. Furthermore, Nanobodies®:are extremely stable, have the potential to be administered by means other than injection and are easy to manufacture.

Ablynx’s Nanobodies® have a high homology with the VH domains of human antibodies and can be further humanised without any loss of activity. Importantly, Nanobodies® have a low immunogenic potential, which has been confirmed in primate studies with Nanobody® lead compounds.


In November 2001, Ablynx was established as a spin-off of VIB and the Free University of Brussels (VUB). Seed financing of €2M was provided by GIMV.


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