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General information

Product Name
A group of biologists led by Raymond Hamers
Patent holders
Ablynx Company
Area of Application
Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease,
Alzheimer's disease, thrombosis, oncology, potential cancer therapeutics etc.

Market Size
€29.7 million in 2009

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Nanobodies® are a class of therapeutic proteins based on single-domain antibody fragments(VHH), for a range of life-threatening human diseases. These VHH domains are the smallest known antigen-binding antibody fragments. Nanobodies® contain the unique structural and functional properties of naturally-occurring heavy-chain antibodies.
Nanobodies® are encoded by single genes. They can be efficiently produced in almost all prokaryotic or eukaryotic host organisms, and their unique biophysical and pharmacological characteristics render these molecules ideal candidates for drug development. Nanobodies® have a low immunogenic potential, high target specificity, high affinity for their target, low inherent toxicity, are extremely stable and easy to manufacture, they are recognising uncommon or hidden epitopes and can bind into active sites of protein targets. The production process is scalable and multi-kilogram quantities of Nanobodies® have been produced.


The Nanobody® technology was originally developed following the discovery that camelidae possess fully functional antibodies that lack light chains.
In 1989, a group of biologists led by Raymond Hamers investigated an odd observation handed in as part of a student project on how dromedary camels and water buffalo fight off parasites. One of the tests for antibodies in the dromedary blood seemed to show an error: in addition to normal four-chain antibodies, it indicated the presence of simpler antibodies composed solely of a pair of heavy chains.
In 2001, The Ablynx company was established as a spin-off of VIB and the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and became operational in early 2002.


Nanobodies application area includes
rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer's disease, thrombosis, oncology, potential cancer therapeutics etc. Nanobodies® have been successfully generated against more than 190 different protein targets including several complex targets such as GPCRs, chemokines, ion channels and viruses, which are typically very difficult to approach with conventional monoclonal antibodies. Exemplary Nanobodies® products are:

ALX-0081, a therapeutic Nanobody® targeting von Willebrand Factor (vWF), which will reduce the risk of thrombosis in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP).

ALX- 0681, a bivalent Nanobody® designed to selectively prevent unwanted thrombus formation in vessels under high shear conditions without interfering with desirable haemostasis and, as such, to minimize bleeding complications.

ALX-0651 , a Nanobody against CXCR4, which plays an important role in cell movement, tumor growth and metastasis.

ALX-0141, a Nanobody targeting Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor kappa B Ligand (RANKL), in healthy postmenopausal women.

TNF-alfa, a Nanobody targeting tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). TNF-alpha is a key drug target in combating inflammation related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Intelectual Property

Ablynx company, founded in 2001 in Ghent, Belgium, currently has over 230 employees. Ablynx completed a successful IPO on Euronext Brussels [ABLX] on 7 November 2007 and raised €50 million through an SPO in March 2010.
Ablynx has a strong and broad IP position and is the only company in the world with granted US and European patents that describe the composition of matter of Nanobodies®, representing a distinct and unique position in the complex field of antibody-derived therapeutics.
Ablynx’s patent estate currently encompasses more than 200 granted patents and patent applications in about 50 patent families, which cover:

  1. The basic structure and properties of Nanobodies® (with no limitation on the species of origin).
  2. The different structural classes of Nanobodies®.
  3. Humanisation, formatting and other techniques for optimizing Nanobodies®.
  4. Methods and techniques for generating Nanobodies® against a range of desired targets, including proteins such as receptors and ligands, as well as micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses.
  5. The expression and production of Nanobodies® in various host organisms, such as E. coli and yeast.
  6. Methods and techniques for formulating and administering Nanobodies®.
  7. Diagnostic uses of Nanobodies®.



Alicja Kario, MBiotec

  1. bioinformatics
  2. biopharmaceutical
  3. company
  4. genetic tests
  5. monoclonal antibodies
  6. nanobiotechnology
  7. penicillin; antibiotics
  8. pharmaceutical
  9. poland
  10. portugal
  11. product
  12. technology
  13. tool
  14. vaccine