Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Adaptive Biotechnologies (NASDAQ:ADPT) today announced a collaboration aimed at helping address the COVID-19 pandemic. The companies will combine expertise to discover and develop fully human neutralizing antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2 to potentially prevent or treat COVID-19. The mutually exclusive collaboration brings together Adaptive’s proprietary immune medicine platform for the identification of virus-neutralizing antibodies with Amgen’s expertise in immunology and novel antibody therapy development. Given the rapidly rising incidence of COVID-19 around the world, the companies will begin work immediately and finalize financial details and terms in the coming weeks.
Neutralizing antibodies defend healthy cells by interfering with the biological function of an invading virus. These antibodies may be used therapeutically to treat someone currently fighting the disease and can be given to people who have heightened risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, such as healthcare workers.
“Our strong history of collaboration with Adaptive gives us the ability to immediately mobilize our combined resources to help address the urgency in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. After swiftly obtaining viral gene sequences from hundreds of patients, Amgen was motivated to use these insights and quickly pair them with our drug development and manufacturing capabilities. Working with Adaptive and using their viral-neutralizing antibody platform will expedite our ability to bring a promising new medicine into clinical trials as quickly as possible,” said Robert A. Bradway, chairman and chief executive officer at Amgen.
Adaptive will extend its high throughput platform to rapidly screen the massive genetic diversity of the B cell receptors from individuals that have recovered from COVID-19. This enables the identification of tens of thousands of naturally occurring antibodies from survivors of COVID-19 to select those that neutralize SARS-CoV-2. Amgen will then leverage its world-class antibody engineering and drug development capabilities to select, develop and manufacture antibodies designed to bind and neutralize SARS-CoV-2. deCODE Genetics, a subsidiary of Amgen located in Iceland, will provide genetic insights from patients who were previously infected with COVID-19.
“We are extremely motivated to join forces with our trusted partner, Amgen, to tackle this global health crisis,” said Chad Robins, chief executive officer and co-founder of Adaptive Biotechnologies. “This partnership expands our drug discovery capabilities, demonstrating the power and versatility of our immune medicine platform.”
The two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enable the parties to start work immediately and are planning to execute a Collaboration and License Agreement. Terms of the agreement are not being disclosed. Both companies aim to accelerate the development of a potential antibody against COVID-19 as fast as possible for patients in need.