A leading Canadian company in the field of antibodies is getting a $300-million boost from the provincial and federal governments.
Vancouver-based AbCellera is expanding, with $225 million coming from the federal government and $75 million coming from the province. The company is expanding its work in Vancouver to help “solve global health-care challenges, while creating hundreds of new, high-paying jobs.”
AbCellera CEO Carl Hansen joined Premier David Eby and federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne Wednesday (May 24) at its headquarters to announce the $701-million project.
The money will go toward building a state-of-the-art biotechnology campus, which will include a new preclinical development facility and upgrades to existing facilities in Vancouver, creating more than 400 jobs, as well as new training opportunities in life sciences and biomanufacturing.
Hansen said the project will help the company bring new treatments into clinical development.
“This project, and the commitment to co-invest alongside the governments of Canada and British Columbia, is a major step toward building the capabilities in Canada to translate scientific breakthroughs into new medicines that will benefit patients here and around the world,” he said.
The project will help locally invented treatments in areas such as oncology and immune diseases to be developed and tested in B.C. for the benefits of patients in B.C. and around the world. It also builds capacity to conduct Phase 1 clinical trials in B.C
Eby called AbCellera’s planned expansion the largest single private investment in a life-science project in provincial history. He added it will ensure British Columbians see the benefit of access to innovative therapies through clinical trials, while also making B.C. a global hub for life sciences and biomanufacturing.
Champagne called AbCellera a cutting-edge company, as it will “make sure that Canada is at the forefront of antibody drug development,” while also strengthening the country’s life sciences sector.
Founded in Vancouver in 2012, AbCellera employs more than 500 people across its locations in Vancouver, Boston, Sydney and Cambridge.
The company, which emerged out of the University of British Columbia, reached global recognition in 2020 when it launched the first trial of a monoclonal antibody to fight COVID-19 in partnership with American pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company.
Monoclonal antibodies are artificial versions of the most effective antibodies that patients naturally produce.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, AbCellera and its partners brought two antibody treatments to patients, including the first antibody treatment to be authorized by the Health Canada and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
AbCellera’s COVID-19 antibodies have been used to treat more than 2.5 million patients and are estimated to have saved tens of thousands of lives.