Merck & Co. will use AbCellera’s microfluidic platform technology in a collaboration designed to generate antibodies against an undisclosed disease. The value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

AbCellera, which announced the partnership today, said it will apply its high-throughput antibody discovery platform to identify antibodies that specifically modulate target function.

Merck retains the option to develop antibody candidates identified through the collaboration for specified therapeutic applications, AbCellera said.

Privately held AbCellera, based in Vancouver, says its technology is designed to facilitate rapid discovery of monoclonal antibodies from natural immune cells. AbCellera says its platform can screen soluble and complex membrane proteins from humans and other species; tissues that include blood, bone marrow, and spleen; and any B cell.

Single antibody-secreting cells are isolated in nanoliter-volume chambers, enabling millions of cells to be screened at the same time based on binding properties and antibody function. Secreted antibodies can be detected within hours with a variety of bead-based and cell-based assay formats, according to AbCellera.

Just last week, AbCellera announced the successful completion of its first antibody discovery partnership with the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s MassBiologics, the only non-profit FDA-licensed manufacturer of vaccines in the U.S. The project, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) under the Autonomous Diagnostics to Enable Prevention and Therapeutics: Prophylactic Options to Environmental and Contagious Threats (ADEPT-PROTECT) program, was directed towards rapid human antibody discovery for infectious diseases.

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