AbCellera to Build Antibody Manufacturing Facility in Canada


130,000-square-foot Vancouver facility aims to accelerate the development of antibody-based therapies for an array of medical conditions.

AbCellera has unveiled plans for the construction of a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) manufacturing facility in Vancouver for the production of therapeutic antibodies, which will be the first of its kind in Canada. The 130,000-square-foot facility will expand AbCellera’s capabilities in bringing new antibody therapies to clinical trials, supporting Canada’s efforts to respond 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.
“We envision AbCellera as a premier destination for the brightest and most creative minds, for people who seek challenges and who want to work at the leading edge,” said Murray McCutcheon, vice president of corporate development, AbCellera. “Our recently announced headquarters and new GMP facility will empower entirely new capabilities and jobs in Canada that we believe will make our communities stronger, bring treatments to patients sooner, and leave a legacy of innovation.”
This announcement follows AbCellera’s April groundbreaking on a new global headquarters in Vancouver. The 380,000-square-foot 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.
In parallel with the construction of the new facility, AbCellera is also building up an internal Chemistry Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) development organization—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 technology stack for antibody discovery, will enable AbCellera to support partners to move from discovery to the clinic.
“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, 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.”
The facility is scheduled to be ready for GMP manufacturing in early 2024, and at full capacity will employ hundreds of 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 $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.
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 authorized for emergency use by both the U.S. FDA and Health Canada. More than 400,000 doses of bamlanivimab have been administered worldwide, keeping more than 22,000 patients out of hospital, and saving at least 11,000 lives. 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.