Sanofi and Ablynx Link on Nanobody Therapeutics
French drugmaker Sanofi has signed a research and licensing deal with Belgian biopharmaceutical company Ablynx, initially focusing on the development and commercialization of Nanobody-based therapeutics for treating various immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.
The agreement grants Sanofi access to certain of Ablynx’ existing Nanobodies as well as its scientists and proprietary Nanobody platform. In addition, Sanofi gets exclusive global rights to certain multi-specific Nanobodies against selected targets, with options for similar rights to additional targets.
In return, Ablynx will receive an upfront payment of €23 million, comprising license and options fees, as well as €8 million in research funding for the first selected targets.
Sanofi has responsibility for developing, manufacturing and commercializing any products while Abynx is eligible for milestone payments amounting to €2.4 billion plus tiered royalties up to low double-digits on any sales.
“This collaboration is the latest example of Sanofi’s strategic commitment to expand our drug discovery pipeline in immunology at a time when we are launching new treatments for atopic dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis,” said Frank Nestle, the drugmaker’s global head of immunology therapeutic research area and chief scientific officer, North America. “We are particularly excited by the Ablynx technology as a leading biologics platform, enabling the development of transformative multi-targeting treatment approaches,” he added.
Ablynx’ proprietary Nanobodies are therapeutic proteins based on single-domain antibody fragments, which are said to combine the advantages of conventional antibody drugs with some of the features of small-molecule drugs.
The company currently has more than 45 programs under development in various therapeutic areas, including inflammation, hematology, immuno-oncology, oncology and respiratory disease. Collaborations are underway with several pharmaceutical companies, including Boehringer Ingelheim, US Merck & Co., Novartis, Novo Nordisk and Germany’s Merck KGaA, among others.