Eli Lilly entered into an agreement with AbCellera to co-develop antibody products for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, the companies announced. The partnership will pair Eli Lilly's capabilities for rapid development, manufacturing and distribution of therapeutic antibodies with AbCellera's rapid pandemic response platform.
AbCellera noted that it has identified over 500 unique fully-human antibody sequences after screening blood from one of the first US patients who recovered from COVID-19. The next step is to screen these antibodies to find the ones most effective in neutralising SARS-CoV-2.
According to AbCellera, many of these antibodies will be expressed in collaboration with partners at the Vaccine Research Center at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and pending agreement with NIAID, will be tested for their ability to neutralise the virus. Daniel Skovronsky, Eli Lilly's chief scientific officer, remarked "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."
Under the agreed terms, the companies will equally share initial development costs towards a product, after which Eli Lilly will be responsible for all further development, manufacturing and distribution. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.
In January, AbCellera announced that it was mobilising its pandemic response platform against the COVID-19 outbreak as part of an existing collaboration with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Specifically, under DARPA's so-called P3 programme, AbCellera said it was working to help establish a technology platform for pandemic response "capable of developing field-ready medical countermeasures within 60 days of isolation of an unknown viral pathogen."
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