Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 411, Issue 9, pp 1703–1713 | Cite as

Nanobody: outstanding features for diagnostic and therapeutic applications

  • J.-Pablo SalvadorEmail author
  • Lluïsa Vilaplana
  • M.-Pilar Marco


Nanobodies (Nbs) have arisen as an alternative to conventional antibodies (Abs) and show great potential when used as tools in different biotechnology fields such as diagnostics and therapy. Different approaches have been described for the production of Nbs and these methods face new challenges focused on improving yield, affinity, and reducing production costs. This review summarizes these challenges, and also the latest advances in the detection of different kinds of molecules, such as proteins and small molecules, and describes their potential use for noninvasive in vivo imaging and for in vitro assays. Moreover, the unique properties of Nbs are outlined like internalization, size, thermal and chemical stability, affinity, blood clearance, and labeling procedures. Concerning therapeutic applications, we highlight some already reported examples about Nbs being used for the treatment of several diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative or infectious diseases among others. Finally, future trends, opportunities, and disadvantages are also discussed.


Nanobody Imaging Therapeutic Diagnosis Immunoassays Single-domain antibody 



This work has been funded by the ImmunoQS project funded by MINECO, Programa Estatal de Investigación Desarrollo e Innovación Orientada a los Retos de la Sociedad (SAF2015-67476-R). The Nb4D group is a consolidated research group (Grup de Recerca) of the Generalitat de Catalunya and has support from the Departament d’Universitats, Recerca i Societat de la Informació de la Generalitat de Catalunya (expedient: 2017 SGR 1441). CIBER-BBN is an initiative funded by the Spanish National Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation 2013-2016, Iniciativa Ingenio 2010, Consolider Program, CIBER Actions are financed by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III with assistance from the European Regional Development Fund.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • J.-Pablo Salvador
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lluïsa Vilaplana
    • 1
    • 2
  • M.-Pilar Marco
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Nanobiotechnology for Diagnostics Group (Nb4D), Department of Chemical and Biomolecular NanotechnologyInstitute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC) of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.CIBER de Bioingeniería, Biomateriales y Nanomedicina (CIBER-BBN)BarcelonaSpain

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