AbCellera and Lilly will select antibodies isolated from recovered COVID-19 patients to create antibody therapeutics for treatment and prevention of the disease


Eli Lilly and Company's Corporate Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Credit: Momoneymoproblemz/Wikipedia.)

AbCellera and Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) have joined forces to co-develop antibody products for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, the disease caused by the infection of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

Under the terms of the agreement, AbCellera and Lilly will equally share initial costs for the product development. Lilly will carry out all further development, manufacturing and distribution activities.

Lilly chief scientific officer Daniel Skovronsky said: “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.

“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.”

AbCellera screened more than five million immune cells from recovered COVID-19 patient

The collaboration is aimed at leveraging rapid pandemic response platform, developed by AbCellera under the DARPA Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) Program, along with Lilly’s rapid development, manufacturing and distribution capabilities for therapeutic antibodies.

AbCellera has screened more than five million immune cells from one of the first US patients who recovered from COVID-19, to identify the immune cells that produced functional antibodies in patients to neutralise the virus and recover from the disease.

The company said that it has identified more than 500 human antibody sequences, creating the largest panel of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, and the antibodies have to be screened to find the most effective one for neutralising SARS-CoV-2.

AbCellera CEO Carl Hansen said: “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.”