AbCellera Biologics Inc. this week announced that it was awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop rapid countermeasures against viral outbreaks.
Under DARPA’s Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program, AbCellera will receive up to USD $30 million in funding to establish an end-to-end platform for rapid pandemic response, and will lead an internationally recognized team of experts in virology, antibody discovery, and gene therapy.
The P3 program seeks to develop a robust technology platform for pandemic response capable of developing field-ready medical countermeasures within 60 days of isolation of a viral pathogen. To achieve this ambitious goal, AbCellera and its partners will develop and integrate innovative technologies for viral culture and production, rapid human antibody discovery, protein engineering, and delivery of nucleic acid-encoded antibodies as prophylactic protection against viral infection.
AbCellera’s platform development and testing will include the discovery of thousands of human antibodies against a wide array of influenza strains and validation using a variety of other high-priority viral pathogens.
“Through the P3 program, DARPA has set a bold vision to establish effective response capabilities for viral threats. The recent Ebola and Zika pandemics have made it clear that we are not equipped to deal with viral pandemics,” noted Carl Hansen, founding CEO of AbCellera. “The severity of seasonal flu this year is a sobering reminder that viral outbreaks present a serious risk to public health for which we must be better prepared.”
AbCellera is a privately held company based in Vancouver, BC. AbCellera’s single-cell platform integrates end-to-end capabilities for therapeutic antibody discovery through a combination of technologies including proprietary immunizations, microfluidics, high-throughput imaging, genomics, computation, and laboratory automation.
Sources: AbCellera Biologics Inc., DARPA. Edited for context and format by Global Biodefense.