Collaboration to co-develop antibody products for treating COVID-19

AbCellera and Eli Lilly have announced their partnership to develop, manufacture and distribute antibody treatments for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Antibodies attacking virus

AbCellera and Eli Lilly and Company have 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.

According to the companies, the collaboration will leverage AbCellera’s pandemic response platform 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 US patients who recovered from COVID-19, AbCellera screened over five million immune cells to identify ones that produced functional antibodies that helped the patient neutralise the virus and recover from the disease. From this effort, the company 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 neutralising SARS-CoV-2, says AbCellera.

“AbCellera’s platform has delivered, with unprecedented speed, by far the world’s largest panel of anti-SAR-CoV-2 antibodies,” said Dr Carl Hansen, Chief Executive Officer of AbCellera. “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. We are moving at top speed to create a potential treatment to help patients. While typically a new therapeutic antibody programme 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,” said Dr Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s Chief Scientific Officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies 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.