AbCellera is mobilizing a response to the novel coronavirus outbreak as part of its DARPA P3 program

January 28, 2020

AbCellera confirms that it is mobilizing its pandemic response platform against the ongoing outbreak of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) originating in Wuhan, China. Since 2018, under the DARPA Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program, AbCellera has been leading a team of partners to establish a robust technology platform for pandemic response capable of developing field-ready medical countermeasures within 60 days of isolation of an unknown viral pathogen. AbCellera’s rapid, high-throughput therapeutic antibody discovery technology will be used to discover coronavirus-neutralizing antibodies that could ultimately be deployed to stop transmission of the 2019-nCoV outbreak.

AbCellera’s platform has already been pressure-tested twice in simulated responses to pandemic outbreaks. In late 2018, AbCellera tested the platform against Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), demonstrating that the platform could effectively isolate hundreds of coronavirus-neutralizing antibodies from camelids in less than 96 hours. In early 2019, AbCellera and its partners successfully demonstrated in a pandemic response simulation that, in just 55 days, they could go from discovering influenza-neutralizing antibodies from volunteer human patient samples to administering nucleic-acid encoded antibody therapeutics that were 100% protective against a lethal dose of influenza virus in rodents.

“The unprecedented throughput and speed of AbCellera’s screening technology makes it particularly well-suited to pandemic situations like the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, where deploying a therapeutic quickly is an important factor to help control transmission,” said Dr. Ester Falconer, P3 Project Lead and Head of R&D at AbCellera. “Since starting the P3 project, we have been preparing for exactly this scenario and we are ready to tackle this threat.”

AbCellera’s core technology is a microfluidic platform that uses miniaturized assays to screen antibodies from individual B cells from any species, including directly from human patients. These proprietary assays can be customized to screen for specific therapeutic properties, depending on the disease target or application.  AbCellera’s platform can screen millions of cells in a campaign, yielding panels of hundreds of therapeutic candidates. AbCellera has partnered with researchers at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and other leading researchers in the field who will test antibody candidates for prophylactic and therapeutic potency against the 2019-nCoV.

“AbCellera’s team is motivated by a desire to have a positive impact on human health,” said Dr. Carl Hansen, CEO of AbCellera. “Ultimately, making a difference is what drives us. I’ve seen this team successfully tackle some of the toughest discovery challenges in the industry, and I’m confident we can contribute to stopping the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.” 

About AbCellera Biologics Inc.

AbCellera is a privately held company that engages in partnerships to discover and develop next-generation therapeutic antibodies. AbCellera’s single-cell platform integrates end-to-end capabilities for therapeutic antibody discovery through a unique combination of technologies including proprietary immunizations, microfluidics, high-throughput imaging, genomics, deep computation, artificial intelligence, and laboratory automation. Ultra-deep screening of single B cells allows unprecedented access to natural immune responses, enabling rapid isolation of large and diverse panels of high-quality lead antibodies from any species, including humans. For more information, visit


AbCellera Contact:

Alexandra Weirich, MSc, Manager, Marketing & Communications