Seeking COVID-19 treatment: Vancouver-based biotech company gets $175M in federal funding
VANCOUVER -- A Vancouver-based biotech firm has received $175 million from the federal government for COVID-19 research.
The funding will expand efforts related to AbCellera's discovery of antibodies that could be used in drugs to treat or prevent the virus.
The biotech company has developed an antibody discovery platform that's being used to analyze blood samples of patients who have recovered from COVID-19.
Since receiving one of the first North American samples from a recovered patient in February, the company has identified over 500 unique human antibodies for the virus.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first announced its partnership with AbCellera back in April, but he released the details of that agreement during his daily briefing on Sunday.
Trudeau said the company's work so far has been promising.
"They've identified antibodies that could be used in drugs to treat this virus. This new funding will help them continue their vital work and human trials beginning as early as July," he said.
AbCellera started in 2012 out of a lab at the University of British Columbia.
The company spoke with CTV News about the partnership last month.
"Our technology allows us to search deeply into natural immune responses to find antibodies," said Carl Hansen, CEO of AbCellera.
Hansen says antibody therapy is much quicker than the vaccine process.
"To put that into perspective, that shaves approximately seven to eight years off what would be the normal drug development process," he explained.
The federal funding will go toward building a good manufacturing practice facility in Vancouver.
It will be the first in Canada capable of going from a patient sample to manufacturing antibodies for clinical testing, and will help Canada be prepared to respond to future pandemics.
Abellera is aiming to begin human testing of its first antibody drug in July.
With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Nafeesa Karim