Green synthesis of nanobodies for smart Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnostics

Novio Catalpa is developing an alternative test for ACPA in collaboration with Radboud University and HAN BioCentre.

240858 biocentre c-elegans5. Samantha Hughes, Nikki Kolsters

Snelle info






Een jaar




Richèle Wind


The missing link in diagnostic testing for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an agglutination assay, easy to perform and dedicated to decentralized testing. 

Doel van het project

Goal of the project at HAN BioCentre is to determine the feasibility and best green route to produce purified nanobodies tagged with citrullinated ACPA targets that can be used for developing an agglutination assay for RA. P. pastoris does not produce endogenous PAD enzymes which are needed for citrullination of the nanobodies in order to be able to use it in a RA agglutination test. Therefore, PAD enzymes from other sources need to be tested and applied.

The project results will be directly used by Novio Catalpa to further develop the innovative test for RA. This project will contribute to and finally result in a single-step agglutination assay suitable for both point-of-care testing and automation in clinical laboratories.


Approximately 75% of RA patients produce autoantibodies to citrullinated proteins (ACPA), which can be detected using an agglutination-based diagnostic test. Such a diagnostic test will be cheaper, less laborious and faster than current tests and does not require sophisticated equipment. Novio Catalpa is developing this alternative test for ACPA in collaboration with Radboud University.

To develop this test, specifically tagged and citrullinated nanobodies are needed, but the production is still challenging. Current methods for the production of ACPA diagnostics involve chemical synthesis, in which a variety of toxic chemicals are used in each step. The alternative assay involves nanobodies fused with RA-biomarker target entities, which can be completely produced by ‘green synthesis’ in the yeast Pichia pastoris using the expertise of HAN BioCentre.

The yeast P. pastoris has proven to be able to produce nanobodies and is a fast and cost-effective platform that often results in high protein yields. 


Richèle Wind

Associate lector, coördinator HAN BioCentre

Onze partners

Consortiumpartners (naast de HAN)

  • Novio Catalpa B.V.
  • Radboud Universiteit

Drug Discovery

Een startend project in de ontdekkingsfase van een medicijn heeft tussen de 5-10% kans om de onderzoeksfase te halen. In die fase is de success rate circa 10% om de markt te halen. Een startend medicijnproject heeft dus een heel kleine kans om uiteindelijk ‘op de schappen’ te komen. De onderzoekers van dit lectoraat leveren een bijdrage aan de ontwikkeling van medicijnen. 

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