British Columbia has become a major hub of biotech innovation within the last decade or more, and the popular coastal city of Vancouver is the center of the life sciences sector in the province. In this article we take a look at five of the top biotech companies located in the city.
According to a 2021 report commissioned by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, the annual revenue for the British Columbia life sciences sector reached $5.4 billion, and, as of 2019, Metro Vancouver, or Greater Vancouver, is home to 1,300 organizations and 16,000 workers that make up a part of Canada’s ‘bio-economy
Vancouver biotech company AbCellera Biologics is focused on antibody discovery and development, searching, decoding, and analyzing natural immune systems to find antibodies. It partners with drug developers of all sizes – from small biotechs to big pharma companies – in order to push therapeutic programs forward to treat different diseases, helping them move quickly, reduce cost, and tackle some of the most challenging problems in drug development.
In fact, AbCellera actually helped to develop the first antibody therapy treatment for COVID-19, when, in 2021, bamlanivimab, used together with etesevimab, became the first monoclonal antibody medicine for COVID-19 to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
Bamlanivimab is a recombinant, neutralizing human IgG1 monoclonal antibody directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, and is designed to block viral attachment and entry into human cells. It was developed from an antibody discovered from the blood of a COVID-19 patient who had recovered from the virus, using AbCellera’s pandemic response platform.
The company recently announced a new $515.6 million project that will add research and development capacity to a manufacturing plant that the federal government gave the company money towards in 2020. It is currently under construction and is set to be producing antibody therapies for clinical trials starting next year.
Acuitas Therapeutics specializes in the development of delivery systems for nucleic acid therapeutics based on lipid nanoparticles (LNP) – which are spheric drug delivery bodies that can be equipped with therapeutic payloads for intracellular delivery, and have emerged as promising vehicles to deliver a variety of therapeutics – and are partnered with multiple pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies, and academic institutes to advance nucleic acid therapeutics to the clinic and the marketplace.
By working in collaboration with industry and academic partners, the Vancouver-based biotech company has been able to show the potential clinical application of messenger RNA (mRNA)-LNP as vaccines, protein replacement therapeutics, gene silencing, and antibody therapeutics. Additionally, Acuitas is also evaluating mRNA-LNP for gene editing applications.
It was announced recently that Acuitas and Bayer AG are joining forces, with Acuitas’ LNP technology supporting Bayer’s in vivo gene editing and protein replacement programs, with the goal of specifically delivering RNA payloads to the liver, which is the desired target organ.