Research topics

Research focus

The VIB Nanobody Core is based at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and was founded by the internationally reputed group which discovered the camelid heavy-chain antibodies and developed the Nanobody technology in the early 90’s, and has contributed to date to more than 400 Nanobody-related peer-reviewed publications in high ranking journals and the establishment of several biotech companies. The VIB Nanobody Core excellence is therefore nurtured by a devoted team of scientists internationally recognized as pioneers and major contributors to Nanobody technology and by the state-of-the-art facilities such as: 1) Animal facilities to accommodate alpaca, llama, mouse and rabbit. 2) Octet and BIACORE T200 for binding constants analysis. 3) Uncle machine to study protein stability and assembly state, and for formulation optimization. 4) AKTAxpress for Nanobody purification. 5) FACS SorterBD Aria II for cell panning. 6) FACS analyserBD Canto II for the analysis of Nanobody-cell receptor interactions. 7) Confocal and fluorescent microscopes.

Currently, the VIB Nanobody Core is engaged in the planning and execution of various projects which cover a broad spectrum of subjects, ranging from developing research tools to identification and optimization of leads for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes in the field of cancer, inflammatory and infectious diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, etc. In addition to continuous improvement on the existing technology in order to further streamline the generation, identification and engineering of Nanobodies, the VIB Nanobody Core has been and is involved in developing novel Nanobody-based technology platforms. Examples of such technologies developed by VIB Nanobody Core are Nanobody-based serum half-life extension of therapeutics, viral load quantification by Nanobodies, Nanobody-based ChIP-chip, and Nanobody-based target discovery platform aiming at the discovery of novel diagnostic and therapeutic targets


Our services are customized based on extensive discussions with our partners at various stages of each project. Below are examples of the services that we provide.

  • Project design.
  • Immunization of llama and alpaca with recombinant proteins, cells, liposomes, nanodiscs, VLPs, etc.
  • DNA immunization for difficult to express and/or difficult to purify proteins such as membrane proteins.
  • Panning and screening (ELISA, Flow cytometry, etc.) on various antigen formats (e.g., recombinant proteins, cells, liposomes, nanodiscs, VLPs).
  • Nanoboy labeling (e.g., biotinylation, fluorescent labeling, etc.).
  • Semi-throughput Nanobody off-rate ranking, stability ranking and solubility ranking.
  • Epitope binning.
  • Receptor/ligand competition assays.
  • Determination of Kon, Koff and KD.
  • Determination of thermal stability (Tm, Tagg) & solubility.
  • Determination of sequence liability.
  • Engineering of Nanobodies for higher stability & solubility, better affinity and manufacturability.
  • Engineering for lower immunogenicity (humanization).
  • Mani-fold constructs (bi-valent, bi-specific, etc.).
  • Serum half-life extension of therapeutic Nanobodies in rat, mouse, monkey (Rhesus and cynomolgus) and human.