Carl Hansen, 46, is geeking out as he describes the process over Zoom. “We can make 100 trillion different antibodies,” he exclaims. “The immune system is spectacular beyond description.”
If that sounds more like a college professor than the CEO of a $13 billion (market cap) biotech company, there’s a reason: Hansen was one—until 2019, when he left to focus on Vancouver-based AbCellera Biologics, cofounded with fellow researchers from the University of British Columbia in 2012. “Universities are very good at testing new ideas and looking for which road might be effective,” he says.
The team’s academic bent has played out in an even more important way. Nearly all biotech startups develop a handful of treatment targets, then spend the next 8 to 12 years developing those drugs, hoping to bring at least one of them to market. It’s not a sure thing—fewer than 10% of new drugs make it all the way. But when they do, they tend to be blockbusters: Seven of the ten top-selling drugs in 2018 were antibody treatments, including AbbVie’s $19 billion (net revenue) immunosuppressive drug Humira and Merck’s cancer drug Keytruda, which generated $11.1 billion in 2019.
AbCellera takes a vastly different approach. Instead of trying to build a vertically integrated drug company, it is focused solely on the discovery process. That’s the portion of drug development that is earliest and most essential: It’s there that the most promising treatment prospects are selected, subjected to early laboratory tests and then moved through the pipeline.
Read the full story on Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2021/01/26/this-college-professor-became-an-overnight-billionaire-thanks-to-covid/?sh=3d80eece3ce5
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Title: This College Professor Became An Overnight Billionaire Fighting Covid | Forbes
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