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Fusion Antibodies and Queen’s University Belfast Receive Invest Northern Ireland Grant to Boost Research and Development for COVID-19 Antibodies
New funding to enable the development of pioneering antibody engineering platform
Fusion Antibodies, pre-clinical antibody discovery, engineering and supply experts, and Queen’s University Belfast, leader in innovation and impact, have been awarded a £453,000 grant from Invest Northern Ireland to further expand their COVID-19 targeted research and development efforts. Within the framework of their Northern Ireland Coronavirus Antibody Development Alliance (NICADA), the two organisations will use the funds to accelerate the discovery of novel therapeutic and diagnostic antibodies with validated anti-infective properties against COVID-19.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted rising demand for select antibodies, specifically engineered to neutralise the SARS-CoV-2 virus, while also facilitating diagnostic testing," said Dr Paul Kerr, CEO at Fusion Antibodies. "Since the early stages of the pandemic, Fusion Antibodies has been committed to discovering new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches to help in the fight against this growing threat. The new funding is set to further strengthen NICADA, enabling us to provide the global biopharmaceutical and clinical diagnostics communities with the necessary tools they need to mount an effective COVID-19 response."
Building on strong scientific expertise and application knowhow, Fusion Antibodies and Queen’s University Belfast will be using the Invest Northern Ireland grant to pioneer a new commercially-competitive antibody development platform. The novel technology will be capable of simultaneously creating COVID-19 antibodies of unparalleled quality: humanised, affinity- and selectivity-matured, stability- and developability-optimised. These state-of-the-art antibodies will have a SARS-CoV-2 virus neutralisation ability, while also aiding diagnostic testing efforts.
"At NICADA, we envisage a breakthrough antibody drug therapy targeting SARS-CoV-2 directly," said Ultan Power, Professor of Molecular Virology at The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Queen’s University Belfast. "The Invest Northern Ireland grant will enable us to exploit our SARS-CoV-2 virology expertise to help generate a new antibody development platform that will allow us to realize this vision, helping us to discover new drug targets to combat the devastating COVID-19 disease."
In anticipation of the new funding, Fusion Antibodies has already designed and expressed a panel of unique protein antigens for use in discovery platforms in the search for a neutralising therapeutic antibody against SARS-CoV-2. The panel of proteins have shown excellent profiles in terms of activity and scalability.
About Fusion Antibodies plc
Fusion Antibodies are a Collaborative Research Organisation (CRO) providing antibody discovery, engineering and supply, through to cell line development. At every stage, our client’s vision is central to how we work, ensuring the best molecule goes to the clinic.
Our world-class humanization and antibody optimization platforms harness the power of the natural somatic hypermutation space. To address remaining market needs in antibody discovery, Fusion is creating a breakthrough fully human antibody library to capture the entire human antibody repertoire.
The Company's ordinary shares were admitted to trading on AIM on 18 December 2017. Fusion provides a broad range of services in antibody generation, development, production, characterisation and optimisation. These services include antigen expression, antibody production, purification and sequencing, antibody humanisation using Fusion's proprietary CDRx™ platform and the production of antibody generating stable cell lines to provide material for use in clinical trials. Since 2012, the Company has successfully sequenced and expressed over 250 antibodies and successfully completed over 200 humanisation projects and has an international, blue-chip client base, which has included eight of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies by revenue.
The Company was established in 2001 as a spin out from Queen's University Belfast. The Company's mission is to enable pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies to develop innovative products in a timely and cost-effective manner for the benefit of the global healthcare industry. Fusion Antibodies provides a broad range of services in antibody generation, development, production, characterisation and optimisation.
Fusion Antibodies growth strategy is based on combining the latest technological advances with cutting edge science to deliver new platforms that will enable Pharma and Biotechs get to the clinic faster, with the optimal drug candidate and ultimately speed up the drug development process.
The global monoclonal antibody therapeutics market was valued at $135.4 billion in 2018 and is forecast to surpass $212.6 billion in 2022, an increase at a CAGR of 12.0 per cent. for the period 2018 to 2022. In 2017, seven of the world's ten top selling drugs were antibody-based therapeutics with the combined annual sales of these drugs exceeding $63.2 billion.