AbCellera secures site for GMP antibody facility in Canada


The Canada-based company has secured the Vancouver site for production of therapeutic antibodies, which will be the first of its kind in Canada

AbCellera has secured a site in Vancouver for the construction of a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) manufacturing facility for the production of therapeutic antibodies, which will be the first of its kind in Canada.

The 130,000 sqft facility will expand AbCellera's capabilities in bringing new antibody therapies to clinical trials, supporting Canada's efforts to respond quickly and effectively to future pandemics and providing AbCellera's partners with a full solution for accelerating their programs from a drug target to the submission of an Investigational New Drug (IND) application.

This announcement follows AbCellera's April groundbreaking on a new global headquarters in Vancouver. The 380,000 sqft headquarters on 4th Avenue between Columbia and Manitoba Streets will be within walking distance of the new GMP manufacturing facility. The new GMP facility will be built on what is currently a vacant two-acre site, and the planned building will house laboratory, office, GMP protein biologic manufacturing, and warehouse space. Design efforts are already underway and groundbreaking is scheduled for later this year.

The facility is scheduled to be ready for GMP manufacturing in early 2024, and at full capacity will employ hundreds of highly skilled scientific personnel.

AbCellera anticipates adding hundreds of employees to its current workforce of nearly 300 people over the next few years. The development of the new GMP manufacturing facility is funded in part by a US$125.6-million grant from the Canadian government's Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) to support AbCellera's work and Canada's ability to respond quickly to future pandemics.

"I am pleased to see AbCellera participating in our government's effort to reverse a four-decade decline in Canada's domestic capacity," said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. "This is an important step toward improving Canada's pandemic preparedness, and a driver for our economic recovery."

AbCellera is at the forefront of the global COVID-19 response, with its discovery of bamlanivimab, the world's first monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19 to be authorised for emergency use by both the US FDA and Health Canada. AbCellera has also discovered a second antibody, LY-CoV1404, that is being advanced by Eli Lilly & Company to address emerging and future variants. This antibody has been shown to be effective against all currently circulating variants of concern and entered clinical trials in May.

A CMC organisation

In parallel with the construction of the new facility, AbCellera is also building up an internal Chemistry Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) development organisation - the team of scientists and engineers responsible for developing the manufacturing processes for antibody therapeutics. CMC and GMP manufacturing capabilities will extend AbCellera's competencies and, when combined with AbCellera's world-leading technology stack for antibody discovery, will enable AbCellera to support partners to move rapidly and seamlessly from discovery to the clinic.

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"AbCellera has already redefined the speed of antibody-drug discovery, and the addition of CMC and GMP capabilities gives us the ability to fully integrate lead therapeutic selection, moving key choices earlier, and aligning teams to make a seamless arc of drug development for our partners," said Bo Barnhart, Scientific Director at AbCellera. "We are building a unique team that includes innovative CMC Development leaders, deeply integrated with Discovery and Translational Research, all focused on selecting and developing better therapeutics to go from antibody discovery to fill-finish in a year."