Novel Nanobody for Osteoarthritis Enters Clinical Development

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Ablynx will receive EUR15 million in milestone payment following Merck’s decision to advance ALX-1141 into clinical development. The nanobody was developed by Ablynx under a 2011 collaboration between both parties.

Ablynx, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Ghent, Belgium, announced the completion of a preclinical package for a novel nanobody, ALX-1141. Merck will now be responsible for further clinical development of the molecule. Merck’s acceptance of this preclinical package has triggered a EUR15 million milestone payment to Ablynx.

Ablynx and Merck entered into a collaboration in 2011 to co-discover and co-develop nanobodies against two targets in osteoarthritis. ALX-1141 is the first clinical candidate to emerge from this collaboration. Ablynx will be eligible for approximately EUR120 million in development, regulatory, and commercial milestones plus double-digit tiered royalties upon successful development and approval of the product.

“Obtaining preclinical proof-of-concept was an important milestone in this collaboration,” Edwin Moses, CEO of Ablynx, commented in a press statement. “Our partner Merck has a great deal of experience in osteoarthritis and we are very pleased with their decision to advance this molecule into clinical development. With no disease-modifying drugs currently approved for osteoarthritis, there is a huge unmet need for new treatments. This nanobody has the potential to become a first-in-class treatment option for patients suffering from this degenerative joint disease. It is the second nanobody that is expected to enter clinical development originating from the various alliances between Ablynx and Merck. The first is the bi-specific anti-IL17A/F nanobody for which encouraging results of a Phase Ib study in psoriasis were recently published.”


Ablynx specializes in the development of nanobodies, which are proprietary therapeutic proteins based on single-domain antibody fragments. Nanobodies combine the advantages of conventional antibody drugs with some of the features of small-molecule drugs. The company has more than 45 proprietary and partnered programs in development in various therapeutic areas, including inflammation, hematology, immune-oncology, oncology, and respiratory disease. Ablynx is collaborating with several pharmaceutical companies such as AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Genzyme, Merck, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, and Taisho Pharmaceuticals.

Source: Ablynx