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DARPA-funded AbCellera to pursue mAbs to treat coronavirus outbreak

AbCellera Biologics Inc. has started a program to discover mAbs as potential treatments for patients infected with the 2019-nCoV that was first identified in Wuhan, China, the company’s CEO, Carl Hansen, told BioCentury.

The work is being undertaken via a contract the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) awarded to AbCellera in 2018 to lead the development of the Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program, a rapid response platform against pandemic viral threats.

After the company receives samples from a patient who has been exposed to 2019-nCoV, it will take AbCellera about three and a half days to identify mAbs that could treat 2019-nCoV, Hansen said. It will take five to six weeks to identify a lead candidate for human testing, and an additional six months for manufacturing, he said.

AbCellera has partnered with the Vaccine Research Center at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and other researchers “who will test antibody candidates for prophylactic and therapeutic potency against the 2019-nCoV,” the company said in a statement.

At least two other companies, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:REGN) and Vir Biotechnology Inc. (NASDAQ:VIR), are developing mAbs to treat 2019-nCov (see “The Race is on to Develop Therapies and Vaccines for the Coronavirus Outbreak”).

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