TORONTO – How confident is Canada’s government that Abcellera Biologics Inc. can identify viral antibodies to help stop COVID-19 in its tracks and build the manufacturing infrastructure for antibody therapies against future pandemic threats? Enough to award the Vancouver, British Columbia-based biotech CA$175.6 million (US$124.7 million) for the application of its antibody discovery platform to the analysis of patients who have recovered from COVID-19.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health recently announced a competitive grant opportunity for testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has been characterized as a “Shark Tank-like” program, and NIH director Francis Collins said in a May 7 Senate hearing that one of the criteria for awards is whether supplies can be made readily available for that test, the lack of which has been a significant impediment to testing in the U.S.
Gaithersburg, Md.-based startup Hememics Biotechnologies Inc. is partnering with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop a rapid, Bluetooth-connected, point-of-care (POC) test for COVID-19. Designed for use in both field and traditional settings, the test detects SARS-CoV-2 and related antibodies from nasal swabs and whole blood, delivering results in a minute or less.
Albuquerque, N.M.-based Sandia Labs received a $6 million grant from the NIH to build a prototype for a wearable brain scanner. The noninvasive functional brain imaging system will use optically pumped magnetometers (OPMs) to conduct more accurate magnetoencephalography (MEG), while improving accuracy, increasing comfort, reducing imaging costs, and enabling use in more patients.