A Vancouver biotech company that specializes in antibody discovery has partnered with American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE:LLY) to develop a new drug for the treatment and prevention of the COVID-19 virus.
The private biotech developed what it calls a rapid pandemic response platform for the quick development, manufacturing and distribution of therapeutic antibodies.
Eli Lilly will use AbCellera’s platform to zero in on those antibodies generated in a natural immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus, which is “novel” – meaning humans do not have any natural immunity to it. The goal is to develop a new drug to treat people with the virus once they have it.
The company states in a news release that, within one week of receiving a blood sample of one of the first patients in the U.S. to recover from the virus, AbCellera has identified 500 unique human antibody sequences.
“The next step is to screen these antibodies to find the ones most effective in neutralizing SARS-CoV-2,” the company says in a news release.
"AbCellera's platform has delivered, with unprecedented speed, by far the world's largest panel of anti-SAR-CoV-2 antibodies," said AbCellera CEO Carl Hansen.
"In 11 days, we've discovered hundreds of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the current outbreak, moved into functional testing with global experts in virology, and signed a co-development agreement with one of the world's leading biopharmaceutical companies.
“Together, our teams are committed to delivering a countermeasure to stop the outbreak."
"We've partnered with AbCellera because we're impressed with the speed and quality of their efforts,” said Eli Lilly chief science officer Daniel Skovronsky.
“We are moving at top speed to create a potential treatment to help patients.While typically a new therapeutic antibody program might take years to get in the clinic, our goal with AbCellera is to be testing potential new therapies in patients within the next four months."