Minister Bains announces investment in antibody discovery technology to help treat COVID-19

Minister Bains announces investment in antibody discovery technology to help treat COVID-19

May 3, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

Canadian scientists, businesses and manufacturers are stepping up to fight COVID-19. The Government of Canada is investing in projects that will support Canada in the global race to find a treatment for COVID-19 while building domestic capabilities to fight future pandemics.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, today announced a contribution of $175.6 million to AbCellera Biologics, a Canadian 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. These investments in research, combined with investments in innovation and manufacturing capacity, will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and, ultimately, facilitate our return to work and economic recovery.

This project will support Canada’s fight against COVID-19 by leveraging AbCellera’s world-leading drug discovery technology, which 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. This funding is instrumental in accelerating and expanding AbCellera’s capabilities to combat 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.

Through this investment, the Government of Canada is contributing to breakthrough technology efforts to advance the development of treatments for COVID-19 and commercialization of a made-in-Canada solution.

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