Abcellera is an early-stage anti-body based drug discovery company that employs an AI powered platform to develop various therapies. The company has raised approximately $483 million in a recent IPO that was well received by the marketplace.
According to Abcellera, the new frontier of technology lies at the interface of computation, engineering and biology – the definition of synthetic biology. Its mission is to improve health with technologies that transform the way that antibody-based therapies are discovered and to become the centralized operating system for next generation antibody discovery.
Its full-stack, artificial intelligence-, or AI, powered drug discovery platform searches and analyzes the database of natural immune systems to find antibodies that can be developed as drugs. Its technology increases the speed and the probability of success of therapeutic antibody discovery, including enabling discovery against targets that may otherwise be intractable.
Abcella’s business model is to form partnerships with drug developers of all sizes – from large cap pharmaceutical to small biotechnology companies – and empower them to move quickly, reduce cost and tackle the toughest problems in drug development. As of September 30, 2020, Abcella had 94 discovery programs that were either completed, in progress or under contract with 26 partners. As a recent example, in a collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company, or Lilly, the company applied our technology stack to co-develop LY-CoV555, a potential antibody therapy to treat and prevent COVID-19. Starting from a single blood sample obtained from a convalescent patient, the partnership identified a viable antibody drug candidate within three weeks that advanced into clinical testing 90 days after initiation of the program. Lilly progressed into these clinical trials at a greatly accelerated pace as a result of the Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program, which is a special emergency program for possible coronavirus therapies created by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Elusive Flywheel
According to the company, the marriage of advanced data collection and computation creates a flywheel effect that augments our technology. Through its partnership/collaborations, Abcella’s says it is amassing unique, multi-dimensional data sets that link measurements at the level of single immune cells with the properties of the antibodies they make and the DNA sequences that encode their function. A single antibody discovery project can generate millions of DNA sequences and single-cell measurements, as well as thousands of target-specific antibodies, each characterized by hundreds of data points. Every project generates more data about the antibody immune response. This creates a competitive advantage whereby Celium, its AI platform, extracts insights from the data to accelerate wet lab experimentation with in silico computation in a continuously iterative process. This real world data, the output of which is not mere theoretical predications, produces molecules that have been optimized by nature.
In 2019, antibody-based therapeutics accounted for over $140.0 billion in sales worldwide and represented five of the top 10 selling therapeutics. The rise of genomics, high-throughput biology and genetic engineering has greatly expanded the opportunity and the ecosystem of innovators working to advance the development of antibody-based therapeutics. There has been a proliferation of biopharmaceutical companies pursuing innovative drug candidate formats and new targets.
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