VIB is home to camelid-derived single-domain antibodies
Nanobodies® or VHHs, the small and stable antigenbinding fragments derived from a special type of antibody present in camelids such as llamas, have been discovered by VUB and VIB in the nineties. Further research proved that VHHs are an extremely versatile class of molecules for research, diagnostics and therapeutics in human and animal health. The VHH technology continues to be the subject of intensive research at VIB.
VIB has catalyzed the use of VHHs as research tools in biotechnology, and the exploration of VHHs as marketable products in medicine and crop protection. The ongoing research of Jan Steyaert’s lab (VIB-VUB) continuously contributes to new discoveries, which have sparked multiple collaborations with other institutes and industry players. The success of these tiny antibody fragments has given rise to multiple VIB spin-offs, like Ablynx (2001), Biotalys (2013), Confo Therapeutics (2015), Animab (2020) and ExeVir Bio (2020).
Ablynx, a Sanofi company, develops Nanobodies® as therapeutics for a range of life-threatening diseases. Its first Nanobody®-based medicine was launched in 2018. Biotalys explores the potential of VHHs, named Agrobodies®, to control plant diseases in agriculture, aiming to contribute to improved and sustainable agricultural production. Confo Therapeutics is building a portfolio of first-inclass programs making use of ConfoBodies™. These VHHs stabilize GPCRs in a particular conformation of interest as a superior starting point for drug discovery.