The US Department of Defense (DOD) has granted a contract of up to $74m to Evotec subsidiary, Just – Evotec Biologics, to develop monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based drug product prototypes that act on orthopoxviruses.

Just – Evotec Biologics will focus on developing drug product prototypes from the discovery stage to the launch of first-in-human Phase I clinical trials. 

Discovery activities set out to detect new mAbs leveraging artificial intelligence-powered novo antibody design and assessing currently available mAbs.

Just – Evotec Biologics will also utilise its J.DESIGN technology platform to facilitate rapid drug development.

It will perform molecular optimisation, development of cell lines, and process and production at the company’s J.POD development and manufacturing site in Redmond, US, using its preclinical and clinical biologics development expertise.

The quick, cost-effective mAb product prototype development will expedite the supply of efficacious and safe mAb medical countermeasures targeting orthopoxviruses.

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In September 2022, Just – Evotec Biologics received the first contract under the accelerated antibodies programme to develop mAbs against plague.

Evotec CEO Dr Werner Lanthaler stated: “We are excited to expand our work for the DOD with this second programme of strategic national importance. 

“Just – Evotec Biologics’ integrated J.DESIGN platform is the perfect fit for the swift and cost-efficient development and production of quality medical countermeasures, and we are pleased to provide the DOD with an integrated discovery, development and manufacturing solution.”

In March 2022, the company expanded its collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb to develop programmes for neurodegenerative ailments.