Amgen, Adaptive Biotechnologies Collaborate to Strengthen COVID-19 Fight
By Ruchi Jhonsa, Ph.D.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, the antiviral drugmakers Gilead Sciences, Johnson and Johnson and GSK have been working at the forefront to develop products for tackling COVID-19. But it was a little surprising when Amgen decided to join them in the race. Amgen, who is well known for developing drugs against cancer, has decided to team up with Adaptive Biotechnologies to discover and develop fully human neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus which will have the potential to save millions of people currently affected by COVID-19 especially in Europe and the U.S.
According to Robert A Bradway, chairman and CEO at Amgen this move was made when “Amgen obtained viral gene sequences from hundreds of patients” and decided to use these insights for developing COVID-19 treatment by pairing them with their “drug development and manufacturing capabilities”. He emphasizes that “Working with Adaptive and using their viral neutralizing antibody platform will expedite their ability to bring a promising new medicine into clinical trials as quickly as possible.” In this mutually exclusive agreement, the pair will utilize Adaptive’s immune medicine platform for the identification of virus-neutralizing antibodies with Amgen’s expertise in immunology and antibody therapy development.
Given that the tie-up happened rather quickly, the duo hasn’t finalized the financial details yet and is expected to be out in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the two parties have started working and have accelerated the development of a potential antibody against COVID-19 for the patients and healthcare workers in need.
Although the partnership comes as a surprise, it is not new for either party. The two have already worked together on a cancer indication. Earlier, they intended to form a partnership to develop neutralizing antibodies against Ebola. However, the conversation was put to hold when Ebola didn’t become a global pandemic. Now the two are partnering to tackle COVID-19 as this outbreak proves to be a greater challenge with cases having surpassed a million people globally. The founders of Adaptive Biotechnologies, brothers Chad and Harlan Robins are very hopeful and are “extremely motivated to join forces with their trusted partner Amgen” to develop antibody treatment for those in need.
Collaborative Effort to find the Right Antibody
In a press statement, the two companies underscore the importance of the antibodies produced by the body against the virus to treat COVID-19 patients. The parties are determined to extract the pool of anti-viral antibodies from the recovered patients and identify the ones that have the potential to neutralize the virus.
Specifically, Adaptive will rapidly screen the massive genetic diversity of the B cell receptors and identify those antibodies that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2 using its high throughput platform. Amgen will then select, develop and manufacture antibodies designed to bind and neutralize SARS-CoV-2 while working with its subsidiary, deCODE that will provide genetic insights from patients who were previously infected with COVID-19.
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