VANCOUVER, BC — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is awarding Vancouver-based biotech AbCellera a research project grant to discover monoclonal antibodies against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb).
As part of the project, AbCellera will use its antibody discovery platform to generate panels of high-affinity monoclonal antibodies against 10 tuberculosis targets. These antibodies will then be used for the development of new diagnostic tests for disease caused by Mtb.
Tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, with an estimated nine million new cases annually. Conventional diagnostic methods used in the developing world fail to identify individuals with disease caused by Mtb in more than half of all cases, and access to more sensitive tests that require specialized laboratory equipment is limited in many high-burden countries. The development of low-cost, point-of-care tests with greater specificity and sensitivity would have major impact on curtailing the spread of the disease in low- to middle-income countries that account for over 90 per cent of tuberculosis cases.
Dr. Carl Hansen, founding CEO of AbCellera commented: “It is a real honour to have the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and we are grateful for the chance to contribute in the fight against tuberculosis.”
AbCellera has established a microfluidic single-cell platform that enables the screening of millions of immune cells in a single day, greatly increasing the speed and efficiency of monoclonal antibody discovery from natural immune responses of immunized animals and human patients. AbCellera’s technology could open new avenues for human immune profiling and infectious disease research, with the potential to accelerate the development of urgently needed diagnostic tests and vaccines.