Government of Canada is giving $175.6 million to AbCellera Biologics, a Vancouver-based biotechnology company that researches and discovers next-generation antibody drugs to fight infection and disease.
“This contribution is part of Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Science to fight COVID-19, announced on March 23, 2020, which includes significant investments in Canada’s world-class research community to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and to diagnose the disease,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
AbCellera’s drug discovery technology searches and analyzes blood samples of recovered patients to rapidly find naturally produced antibodies that can be used to fight and prevent viral infections.
In just a few short weeks, AbCellera has identified over 500 antibodies directly from a patient who has recovered from COVID-19.
AbCellera and its partners expect clinical trials to begin in July 2020 or earlier.
Antibodies found during AbCellera’s research may also be used to create tests for COVID-19, and the company is working with several global organizations to support the development of new diagnostics to monitor the disease.
This funding will also support AbCellera in establishing a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility in Vancouver, B.C.
This new AbCellera facility will be the first of this scale in Canada capable of going from a patient sample to manufacturing antibodies for clinical testing.
It is part of a broader plan to ensure Canada further strengthens its capacity to respond to future pandemics, the government said.