Canada-based AbCellera has announced it has signed a multi-year, multi-target agreement with Novartis under which its antibody discovery technology will be leveraged by the Swiss pharma giant for up to ten clinically-relevant disease targets.

AbCellera’s antibody discovery technology relies upon a microfluidics system, which can screen a large number of single antibody-producing B cells from natural sources to identify the best antibodies for any given target based on affinity, specificity and other binding properties.

The platform then uses genomic sequences, artificial intelligence and data visualisation techniques to determine which of the antibody molecules will make the best drug candidates.

Under the terms of the agreement, AbCellera will be eligible to receive milestone payments for downstream products, research funding and royalties on net sales from any drugs commercialised as a result of the partnership.

AbCellera CEO and president Carl Hansen said: “AbCellera continues to build its reputation as a high-powered innovation shop and the premier provider for therapeutic antibody discovery from natural immune responses.

“This partnership with Novartis marks an important evolution of our partnering strategy, expanding from target-based collaborations to deal structures that encourage long-term relationships and provide extended technology access to select partners.”

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AbCellera’s technology is applicable to any source across tissues, class and species.

The company has partnered on more than 25 discovery programmes, including with seven other major players in the pharmaceutical industry, such as GlaxoSmithKline, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Pfizer.

Most recently, AbCellera collaborated with CAR-T cell therapy specialist Autolus Therapeutics and with Denali Therapeutics to accelerate drug discovery for neurodegenerative diseases.

Hansen said: “Neurodegenerative disease is one of the most important frontiers for biologics. It is also one of the most challenging, and bringing new therapies to patients will require the best possible technologies on every front.”