The Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT) awarded Ablynx a €2.1 million ($2.8 million) grant toward advancing a program exploring the use of Nanobodies® to treat diseases of the eye. The Belgian company says the grant will be available over a period of three years and will allow the development and subsequent testing of Nanobody leads in preclinical disease models.
Nanobodies, according to Ablynx, are antibody-derived therapeutic proteins that contain the structural and functional properties of naturally occurring heavy-chain antibodies. The firm says it is currently developing Nanobodies to treat diseases such as inflammation, cancer, and pulmonary disease, and has several ongoing collaborations with other companies including Merck, with which Ablynx recently launched a cancer drug development collaboration said to be worth up to $2.3 billion. AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eddingpharm, and Novartis have also made Nanobody-related deals with Ablynx.
"This grant is a further clear endorsement of the innovative potential of the Nanobody platform and its ability to generate differentiated drugs in disease areas which are scientifically challenging and which represent a high unmet medical need," Ablynx' CSO Tony De Fougerolles, Ph.D., said in a statement. "Ophthalmology is an increasingly important area for many pharmaceutical companies as they seek to meet the demands of an aging population."
This is not the first grant Ablynx has received from IWT: It also received €1.68 million ($2.3 million) from the agency back in October to advance ALX-0171, Ablynx' first inhaled Nanobody in infants for the treatment of RSV infections.