The Canadian company that helped develop the first antibody therapy treatment for COVID-19 is more than doubling the size of its planned expansion in Vancouver.
AbCellera Biologics is announcing a new $700-million project today that will add research and development capacity to the manufacturing plant that has been in the works since 2020.
The federal government gave AbCellera $176 million toward the manufacturing plant and is announcing another $225 million today for the research and clinical trial projects.
The British Columbia government is providing $75 million.
AbCellera senior vice-president Murray McCutcheon says the company’s new campus will be able to take research on antibody therapies from early ideas through to clinical trials.
Vaccines trigger the body to make antibodies to prevent or limit an infection before exposure, and antibodies therapies are given to help a body fight off an infection after it has already started.
AbCellera partnered with drug giant Eli Lilly in 2020 to develop Bamlanivimab, which was authorized for use less than a year after the first case of COVID-19 was discovered.
While AbCellera helped discover that therapy, the doses themselves were manufactured outside of Canada.
The new manufacturing plant is under construction now and is set to be producing antibody therapies for clinical trials starting next year.
The new project being announced Wednesday is adding lab space, equipment and technology to turn basic research into usable medicines, as well as programs that help get those medicines into clinical trials.
McCutcheon says the first focus is going to be on antibody therapies for use against cancer and autoimmune diseases.
The company was founded in 2012 and currently has about 500 employees. McCutcheon says the manufacturing plant and the new research and clinical trial project will add about 400 additional jobs.