Ablynx, spin-off based on Camelid Antibodies

Publication date 28.07.2011

Spin-Off based on Camelid Antibodies

A success story...

Ablynx is a bio-pharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of Nanobodies®, a novel class of therapeutic proteins based on single-domain antibody fragments which can be used to treat a range of serious and life-threatening diseases. Ablynx is developing a portfolio of Nanobody®-based therapeutic programs in a number of major disease areas, including inflammation, thrombosis, oncology and Alzheimer’s disease.

... at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel

In 1989, a group of biologists led by Raymond Hamers at the VUB investigated an odd observation handed in as part of a student’s project on parasite immunodefense in dromedary and camels.

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 dromedaries, and also in twohumped Asian camels and South American llamas, about half of the antibodies circulating in the blood lack a light chain. Equally surprising, the researchers found that these “incomplete” antibodies are able to grasp their targets as firmly as normal antibodies do. 

Genetic engineering techniques were developed to retrieve the target-binding single domain fragments (referred to as Nanobodies ®) from the heavy chain-only camelid antibodies. These have affinities for their targets virtually equal to a full classical antibody 10 times their size.

Based on this initial technology, Ablynx NV was established as a spin-off of VIB and VUB in 2001. Seed financing of € 2 million was provided by the Gewestelijke Investeringsmaatschappij Vlaanderen (GIMV) and by the Biotech Fonds Vlaanderen.

In November 2007, Ablynx successfully completed its initial public offering (IPO) and is now listed on Euronext Brussels under the symbol “ABLX”. Ablynx raised a total of € 85.2 million, making it the largest biotech IPO on Euronext. Ablynx has an extensive patent position in the field of Nanobodies® for healthcare applications.

Ablynx NV: Spin-Off based on Camelid Antibodies
Ablynx NV
Technologiepark 4
9052 Ghent/Zwijnaarde - Belgium
[E] info@ablynx.com
[T] +32 (0)9 262 00 00
[F] +32 (0)9 262 00 01
[W] www.ablynx.com

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
VIB Department of Molecular and Cellular Interactions

Scientific contacts: Lode WYNS, Jan STEYAERT, Serge MUYLDERMANS
Pleinlaan 2
Building E – 8th floor
1050 Brussels - Belgium
[T] +32 (0)2 629 19 61
[F] +32 (0)2 629 19 63
[W] www.bioingenieur.be/onderzoek.htm#CMIM