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Amgen, Adaptive Biotechnologies Partner on Drug Discovery for COVID-19

NEW YORK – Amgen and Adaptive Biotechnologies said on Thursday that they are collaborating to discover and develop human antibody-based treatments for COVID-19.

The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding and plan to execute a collaboration and license agreement, the terms of which will not be disclosed.

Under the mutually exclusive partnership, the firms plan to discover and develop fully human neutralizing antibodies that target the SARS-CoV-2 virus, combining Adaptive's proprietary immune repertoire sequencing technology with Amgen's expertise in antibody therapy development. Such antibodies could potentially be used to treat patients with COVID-19 as well as to protect those at increased risk of contracting the disease.

Specifically, Adaptive will utilize its platform to rapidly screen the genetic diversity of B cell receptors from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 in order to identify naturally occurring antibodies that neutralize the virus. Amgen will then employ its antibody engineering and drug development capabilities to select, develop, and manufacture these antibodies. As part of the collaboration, Amgen subsidiary Decode Genetics will provide genetic insights from patients who were previously infected with COVID-19.

"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," said Robert Bradway, chairman and CEO of Amgen, in a statement. "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."

"We are extremely motivated to join forces with our trusted partner, Amgen, to tackle this global health crisis," said Chad Robins, CEO and cofounder of Adaptive Biotechnologies. "This partnership expands our drug discovery capabilities, demonstrating the power and versatility of our immune medicine platform."

Amgen and Adaptive have already been collaborating in other areas. Last year, the firms signed an agreement to use Adaptive's platform for minimal residual disease testing as part of leukemia clinical trials, following a similar agreement for multiple myeloma in 2017.