Ildong Pharmaceutical will licence a suite of Twist Bioscience‘s VHH antibody libraries after the two companies entered a partnership agreement.

Twist’s VHH libraries, used for discovering and developing antibodies for use in immuno-oncology, will be licensed by Ildong for three years for research and development works. 

Twist will be entitled to receive an upfront payment, annual maintenance fees, further payments on successfully meeting clinical and regulatory milestones and royalty payments on product sales.

Twist Bioscience CEO and co-founder Emily Leproust said: “We believe our VHH libraries are extremely versatile in their applications developing novel and next-generation therapies. 

“Because they are significantly smaller than a traditional human antibody, they can be combined with other technologies, or used on their own for development of effective therapies. 

“This VHH library licensing agreement with Ildong is our first collaboration with a South Korea-based company and broadens our presence in the Asia-Pacific region.”

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Antibodies comprise two variable domains, heavy and light chains. 

A VHH antibody or a single domain antibody is the antigen-attaching domain of the heavy chain and has three complementary determining regions (CDRs) or regions where antigens attach to the antibody. 

The VHH libraries of Twist leverage new methods that merge synthetic and natural methods to enhance diversity in the ten billion antibody library, offering improved quality VHH libraries for usage against any protein target. 

VHH antibodies’ small size permits them to reach targets that conventional antibodies cannot with strongly attaching affinity. 

The modular nature of such antibodies aid in the development of bi- or multi-specific antibodies suitable for creating new therapies for oncology, autoimmune disease and virology areas.

In May this year, the company signed a research partnership and exclusive option licence deal with Astellas Pharma for developing antibodies to lower tumour microenvironment-mediated immunosuppression.