AbCellera Biologics Inc. and Eli Lilly today announced they would co-develop antibody products for the treatment of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, utilizing antibodies screened from a U.S. patient recently recovered from the novel coronavirus disease.
Within one week of receiving a blood sample from one of the first U.S. patients who recovered from COVID-19, AbCellera screened over 5 million immune cells looking for ones that produced functional antibodies that helped the patient neutralize the virus and recover from the disease. From this effort, AbCellera has identified over 500 unique fully human antibody sequences, the largest panel of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies ever reported. The next step is to screen these antibodies to find the ones most effective in neutralizing SARS-CoV-2. Many of these antibodies will be expressed in collaboration with partners at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and pending agreement with NIAID will be tested for their ability to neutralize the virus.
“AbCellera’s platform has delivered, with unprecedented speed, by far the world’s largest panel of anti-SAR-CoV-2 antibodies,” said Carl Hansen, Ph.D., CEO of AbCellera. “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. We’re deeply impressed with the speed and agility of Lilly’s response to this global challenge. Together, our teams are committed to delivering a countermeasure to stop the outbreak.”
Under the terms of the agreement, AbCellera and Lilly have committed to equally share initial development costs towards a product, after which Lilly will be responsible for all further development, manufacturing and distribution.