AbCellera and Eli Lilly and Company announced 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 (P3) 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.
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.