Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) has entered into an agreement with AbCellera in Vancouver. The companies say they will work to co-develop antibody products to treat and prevent COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 

AbCellera says over 5 million immune cells were screened in the search for antibodies to help patients recover from the disease within a week of receiving a blood sample from one of the first cases in the U.S.

The company says it has identified over 500 unique sequences, which they claim is the largest panel of these specific antibodies ever reported. The next step in the process is to find the antibodies most effective in neutralizing the virus. The companies are partnering with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

“AbCellera’s platform has delivered, with unprecedented speed, by far the world’s largest panel of anti-SAR-CoV-2 antibodies,” said Carl Hansen, Ph.D., CEO of 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. 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.”

The agreement calls for both companies to equally share initial costs of development for a product, with Lilly being responsible for all further development, manufacturing and distribution. 

“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,” said Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., Lilly’s chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories.


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