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Lilly and AbCellera partner on antibody therapies for COVID-19

Latest companies to join the fight against the novel coronavirus

Lilly

Eli Lilly and AbCellera are the latest contenders to join the fight against the novel coronavirus, after announcing they have partnered on the development of antibody therapies targeting the virus.

The two partners have entered into a co-development agreement, which aims to identify and manufacture antibody products for the treatment and prevention of the novel coronavirus – which causes the disease known as COVID-19.

The collaboration will leverage AbCellera’s pandemic response platform and Lilly’s global capabilities for the rapid development and subsequent manufacturing and distribution of therapeutic antibodies.

According to the partners, after receiving a blood sample from a recovered US COVID-19 patient, AbCellera has screened over five million immune cells to identify the ones that produced the antibodies which allowed for recovery from the disease.

As a result, AbCellera has identified 500 fully human antibody sequences, and the next step will be to screen these antibodies to identify which are the most effective against the coronavirus.

"AbCellera's platform has delivered, with unprecedented speed, by far the world's largest panel of anti-SAR-CoV-2 antibodies," said Carl Hansen, CEO, AbCellera.

"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,” he added.

A host of companies are also looking to develop therapeutics or vaccine for use against the virus, including Takeda, Gilead, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and Moderna.

Last week, Takeda said it is developing a plasma-derived drug, which will use the blood of recovered coronavirus patients to work on the development of a new therapeutic.

Researchers hope that this method will be able to harness the antibodies produced by patients to develop a successful COVID-19 treatment.

According to Takeda, plasma-derived therapies have previously shown efficacy against other severe acute viral respiratory infections, making them a viable treatment option for use against the novel coronavirus.

Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir is also in clinical trials in the US and China, after it was identified by researchers as having potential efficacy against the respiratory illness.

Meanwhile, China has already approved Roche’s anti-inflammatory drug Actemra (tocilizumab) for the treatment of coronavirus patients with lung complications from the disease, with Roche reportedly donating nearly $2m-worth of the drug to the country.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

13th March 2020

From: Research

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