Novo Nordisk will use Ablynx’s nanobody technology platform in a collaboration to discover and develop at least one new multispecific Nanobody® drug candidate, with Novo holding an option to develop a second.

The partnership could generate up to €377 million ($399 million)-plus for Ablynx, which announced the deal today.

The Nanobody drug candidates will be developed for an undisclosed disease area, Ablynx said. Novo Nordisk will oversee the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of products resulting from the collaboration.

In return, Novo Nordisk agreed to pay Ablynx an upfront license fee of €5 million ($5.3 million), and up to €4 million ($4.2 million) in research funding during the initial three-year research term of the alliance.

If Novo Nordisk exercises its option to develop a second Nanobody program, it will pay Ablynx an exercise fee of €4 million ($4.2 million)—on top of up to €182 million ($192.6 million) per program in potential development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments, plus tiered royalties on annual net sales on any products resulting from the collaboration.

Headquartered in Ghent, Belgium, Ablynx specializes in developing Nanobodies, proprietary therapeutic proteins based on single-domain antibody fragments. Nanobodies are designed to combine the advantages of conventional antibody drugs with some features of small-molecule drugs.

Ablynx has more than 30 proprietary and partnered programs in development in various therapeutic areas, including inflammation, hematology, immuno-oncology, oncology and respiratory disease.

“Our proprietary Nanobody technology platform is ideally suited to develop multi-specific Nanobody candidates that address multiple targets in a single drug molecule, applicable across a wide range of diseases,” Ablynx CEO Edwin Moses, Ph.D., said in a statement.

Novo Nordisk joins a group of global biopharmas with which Ablynx has collaborations—a group that includes AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eddingpharm, Genzyme, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, Novartis, and Taisho Pharmaceutical.

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