AbCellera and Eli Lilly and Company recently announced that they have entered into an agreement to co-develop antibody products for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus. The collaboration will leverage AbCellera's rapid pandemic response platform, developed under the DARPA Pandemic Prevention Platform Program, and Lilly's global capabilities for rapid development, manufacturing and distribution of therapeutic antibodies.
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."
"With the number of cases rapidly increasing all over the world, doctors and patients are seeking a therapeutic intervention that can speed their recovery or prevent the disease. Lilly is committed to playing our part to bring innovation to patients amidst this global outbreak," said Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., Lilly's chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories. "We've partnered with AbCellera because we're impressed with the speed and quality of their efforts. 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."
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. If successful, Lilly is ready to work with global regulators to bring a treatment to patients.