Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim has teamed up with Belgium company Ablynx and inked an exclusive worldwide collaboration and licence agreement worth almost $265 million to discover and develop new therapies for Alzheimer's disease.

This will be done by using Ablynx' novel class of antibody-derived therapeutic proteins known as Nanobodies and under the terms of the deal, Boehringer will set up a joint research programme including Ablynx scientists and be solely responsible for the development, manufacture and commercialisation of any products resulting from the collaboration. The $265 million figure includes an undisclosed upfront fee, plus development and commercial milestones, and the Belgian firm will also receive undisclosed royalties based on sales.

The companies said that Nanobodies could be particularly important in developing new Alzheimer's disease treatments, “as researchers believe they could solve the problems faced by other drugs or conventional treatments” as due to their special characteristics, they may “cross the blood-brain barrier more readily than conventional antibodies.”

Edwin Moses, chief executive at Ablynx, said Boehringer is the ideal partner, given its “considerable expertise in the field of neurological diseases,” while Andreas Barner, vice chairman of the board at the German company, praised Ablynx’ “powerful and unique technology." The latter firm also has deals in place with the likes of Wyeth, Novartis, Centocor.