AbCellera Biologics Inc. is getting $175.6 million (US$125 million) from the Canadian government to accelerate its research on COVID-19 antibodies.
The Vancouver-based biotech company is in a partnership with Eli Lilly & Co. on a treatment for the disease, with a goal of starting clinical trials by July.
“This new funding will help them continue their vital work,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press conference from Ottawa Sunday.
AbCellera, which says it has identified more than 500 antibodies from a patient who recovered from Covid-19, said it will use the money “to expand efforts related to the discovery of antibodies for use in drugs to treat Covid-19” and build technology for future antibody therapies.
AbCellera’s research may also be used to create tests for Covid-19, and the company is working with other organizations to develop new diagnostics to monitor the disease, according to a government statement.
Separately, another Canadian biotech firm, Spartan Bioscience Inc., said it is recalling a Covid-19 testing product after the National Microbiology Laboratory raised concerns about its efficacy, the Ottawa-based company said on its website.
The government’s focus remains on how to resolve the crisis and it’s too early to draw conclusions about the origin of the pandemic, Trudeau said at the news conference. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said there is “enormous evidence” the coronavirus outbreak began in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, without providing proof.