Firm received almost $2 million to support the new subsidiary.

Antibody therapeutics company arGEN-X opened an R&D subsidiary in the Flanders region of Belgium. The new center of excellence will discover and develop antibodies based on its Simple Antibody® platform. The new facility is supported by a €1.3 million, or roughtly $1.94 million grant from Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders.

Netherlands-based arGEN-X’ SIMPLE (superior immunodiversity with minimal protein lead engineering) platform is based on the discovery that the variable domains of camelid 4-chain antibodies have excellent sequence and complete structural homology to their human counterparts. The company was founded in 2008 by former executives at Ghent, Belgium-based Ablynx.

Tim Van Hauwermeiren, arGEN-X CEO and previously senior business development manager at Ablynx, explains that while Ablynx’ therapeutic Nanobody® platform comprises small-molecular-weight protein binders derived from heavy-chain-only antibodies found in camelids, arGEN-X’ platform is based on conventional antibody structures found in the camelid family. “They also have conventional antibodies, like you and me, but no one has ever looked at them,” he states.

The company has preclinical programs addressing multiple therapeutic areas. Its lead program is pursuing a target implicated in autoimmunity, while two other discovery programs in bone disease and oncology are also in progress.

In September arGEN-X raised about $13.8 million in a Series A round of fundraising. The company maintains it now has sufficient investment to carry it through into 2012. Initial aims will be the validation of its SIMPLE platform and the progression of its preclinical pipeline. Van Hauwermeiren maintains that by 2012, at least one program should be ready to enter the clinic. The company is also looking to offere its SIMPLE platform on a collaborative or licensing basis.

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