Canadian biotech firm AbCellera Biologics has raised $105m in a Series B funding round to advance its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered antibody drug discovery platform.

OrbiMed and DCVC Bio led the financing round, with participation from Viking Global Investors, Peter Thiel, Founders Fund, Eli Lilly, University of Minnesota and Presight Capital.

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Earlier this month, the Canadian government committed to provide up to $175.6m to support AbCellera in the development of antibody-based therapies against Covid-19.

Furthermore, the funds are meant to develop technology and manufacturing infrastructure for antibody therapies for future pandemics.

The fresh Series B funds will be used to boost the company’s capacity and enable investment in technologies that support and extend its antibody discovery engine.

AbCellera CEO Carl Hansen said: “Drug development takes too long, fails too often, and costs too much. With the backing of visionary investors, we will double-down on our strategy of making long-term investments in technology and teams that are needed to put drug development on the fast track.

“We’re building a modern operating system for drug developers to ensure the best science is translated quickly into new therapies for patients.”

The company works by screening, selecting and analysing numerous naturally generated antibodies to identify new drug candidates. It speeds-up the process of antibody-drug discovery with machine learning and data science.

AbCellera plans to develop and aggregate tools to develop biological modalities, including different antibodies, gene-encoded biologics and cell therapies.

The Series B financing will also be used to expand the company’s workforce, as well as build a new 48,000ft2 research and development (R&D) facility next year and a manufacturing facility for biologics for clinical testing.

In March, AbCellera partnered with Eli Lilly to develop antibodies to treat and prevent Covid-19. The companies agreed to combine AbCellera’s rapid pandemic response platform with Lilly’s therapeutic antibodies development, manufacturing and distribution expertise.