Ok. I thought I was fairly up on available technologies out there but somehow never heard of llama antibodies as a platform for drug development. Silly me, as two big deals/events were announced today that involved "llama technology."
In the first, AbbVie cemented a deal with Ablynx for the drug ALX-0061 intended for the treatment of rheumatodi arthritis and lupus. AbbVie's Humira, the highest selling drug in the world, will be coming off patent over the next several years (post 2015) and ALX-0061 could be its replacement. The drug stems from Ablynx's nanobody technology -- i.e. small antibodies from llamas and will net the company a $175 Mupfront payment with possible future milestones that could reach up to another $665 M. It should also draw other suitors to the technology. See Reuters.
The second deal involved Shire and llama antibody developer arGEN-X. arGEN-X received an unknown milestone payment for reaching an in vivo milestone for its technology for an unkown indication. The indications are in Shire's sweet spot of severe and rare genetic diseases. Apparently llamas are preferred as they have a strong immune response, great genetic diversity and produce against all epitopes. Following the creation of large, diverse, target-specific antibody libraries, arGEN-X applies disease relevant functional assays to select differentiated therapeutic candidates. The llama antibody response is very comprehensive and even complex targets can be used. See Biopharma-Reporter.com.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Sep 23rd 2013