AbCellera and Eli Lilly entered a multi-year research and licensing agreement that will see them working together for the discovery of up to nine antibodies, as chosen by the latter company.
According to the partners, discussions began on the partnership as the COVID-19 pandemic started to unfold, with the focus of discovery then shifting to creating an antibody therapeutic for the ‘possible prevention and treatment’ of COVID-19.
Daniel Skovronsky, CSO of Lilly, stated that the collaborative work had allowed for the ‘rapid identification’ of lead antibody candidates for its COVID-19 efforts.
There are eight additional targets possible, though Lilly did not specify which therapeutic areas the antibodies would be aimed towards.
As part of the agreement, AbCellera will receive an unspecified up-front payment and research payments for the non-COVID-19 targets. Beyond this, there will be payments on development milestones and royalties on future sales.
AbCellera has already established discovery partnerships with a number of the largest pharma companies in the industry, including Novartis, GSK, Pfizer and Sanofi, among others. As part of its partnering process, the biotech states that it has completed more than 55 programs.
AbCellera began work on discovering an antibody against COVID-19 at the end of January, as a result of its previous work with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a platform for pandemic response.
During testing, the biotech stated that it had successfully demonstrated, alongside a partner, the ability to produce an influenza therapeutic in 55 days using the platform. The company then leveraged the same program alongside Lilly.