Canada giving AbCellera Biologics C$176 million for coronavirus research

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada said on Sunday it was giving privately held Canadian firm AbCellera Biologics Inc C$176 million to help it find naturally produced antibodies that could be used to battle the coronavirus outbreak.

Federal Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said AbCellera had identified over 500 antibodies 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,” he said in a statement.

The money will also help the firm to build a Vancouver facility that can manufacture antibodies for clinical testing, he added.

AbCellera said in March it was working with Eli Lilly and Co to co-develop antibody products for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, a flu-like disease caused by the coronavirus.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Lisa Shumaker