Sanofi: ‘Ablynx Nanobody Tech Will Fuel Innovation’

Sanofi has completed the acquisition of Ablynx and says it will use the ‘small antibody’ tech platform to drive innovation across a range of therapeutic areas.

After rebuffing offers from Novo Nordisk, Belgian biotech Ablynx agreed to an acquisition bid of €3.9 billion (US$4.5 billion) from Sanofi in January. This week, the French pharma giant closed the deal and spoke about its integration plans.

“Sanofi and Ablynx have already initiated efforts to better understand the company’s respective areas of expertise and to bring the companies together in the most effective way,” spokesperson Laurence Bollack told BioProcess Insider. “The ultimate objective is to quickly deliver cutting edge scientific solutions and breakthrough medicines to patients.”

Nanobody’s Perfect

Ablynx has developed a pipeline of Nanobodies, which are similar to antibodies but considerably smaller.

Nanobodies are based on antibodies found in camels and llamas (camelidae)

Based on antibodies found in camels and llamas (camelidae), Nanobodies lack the light chain domains present in traditional molecules, instead consisting only of the heavy chains and a single variable region. Nanobodies, therefore, can bind multiple therapeutic targets – including those that cannot be accessed by conventional antibodies – and due to their size can be delivered by non-conventional administrative routes.

Sanofi adds lead Nanobody candidate caplacizumab (anti-vWF Nanobody) to its portfolio. The product has been filed in Europeand has US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fast-track designation for the treatment of acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (aTTP).

But Sanofi will also add several Nanobody partnership deals that Ablynx inked with rival Big Pharma firms, including Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck & Co., and Novo Nordisk.

“We value Ablynx’ scientific capacity and spirit of entrepreneurship and want to preserve this within the Sanofi R&D organization,” Bollack told us.

“That said, we also want to leverage this new proprietary platform for Sanofi, to develop and acquire proprietary technology to fuel innovation in our broad number of therapeutic areas.”