Novel human/non-human primate cross-reactive anti-transferrin receptor nanobodies for brain delivery of biologics


The blood-brain barrier (BBB), while being the gatekeeper of the central nervous system (CNS), is a bottleneck for the treatment of neurological diseases. Unfortunately, most of the biologicals do not reach their brain targets in sufficient quantities. The antibody targeting of receptor-mediated transcytosis (RMT) receptors is an exploited mechanism that increases brain permeability. We previously discovered an anti-human transferrin receptor (TfR) nanobody that could efficiently deliver a therapeutic moiety across the BBB. Despite the high homology between human and cynomolgus TfR, the nanobody was unable to bind the non-human primate receptor. Here we report the discovery of two nanobodies that were able to bind human and cynomolgus TfR, making these nanobodies more clinically relevant. Whereas nanobody BBB00515 bound cynomolgus TfR with 18 times more affinity than it did human TfR, nanobody BBB00533 bound human and cynomolgus TfR with similar affinities. When fused with an anti-beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme (BACE1) antibody (1A11AM), each of the nanobodies was able to increase its brain permeability after peripheral injection. A 40% reduction of brain Aβ1–40 levels could be observed in mice injected with anti-TfR/BACE1 bispecific antibodies when compared to vehicle-injected mice. In summary, we found two nanobodies that could bind both human and cynomolgus TfR with the potential to be used clinically to increase the brain permeability of therapeutic biologicals.

Journal details

Journal Pharmaceutics
Volume 15
Issue number 6
Pages 1748
Available online
Publication date