This College Professor Became An Overnight Billionaire Fighting Covid

Every time you’re infected by bacteria or a virus, your immune system works to create treatments to defeat it. Molecularly unique to each person, these tiny cells, or antibodies, either destroy these invaders or mark them for other killer cells to track down.

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.

But AbCellera, which raised $105 million from investors including Peter Thiel, the University of Minnesota and OrbiMed in May—at a valuation of $4.8 billion, according to PitchBook, just six months before going public—is not interested in seeing it through from beginning to end. Instead it offers what might be described as “drug discovery as a service.” It works with 90 outside businesses, including pharma giants Pfizer, Gilead and Novartis. Those companies ask the biotech to find antibodies that meet certain criteria. AbCellera then uses its proprietary technology to find prospects.

In its highest-profile success to date, AbCellera examined thousands of antibodies derived from the blood of people who had recovered from Covid-19 in order to identify the antibodies that did the best job fighting the virus. It then turned over the most promising antibodies to drug company Eli Lilly. Clinical trials of one of those antibodies, bamlanivimab, began in May—just 90 days after the partnership started. Tests found patients with mild or moderate cases had good results, and in November, the antibody received emergency-use authorization from the FDA.

The federal government has contracted to purchase 950,000 doses of the drug for $1.2 billion. Eli Lilly issued guidance in mid-December expecting up to $2 billion in revenue from Covid-19 therapeutics in 2021, the bulk of which will come from bamlanivimab; AbCellera, which booked $25 million through the end of September 2020, will earn estimated royalties of $270 million on those sales, according to Credit Suisse.

AbCellera is also looking to speed up the time it takes to develop its antibody therapies. The shorter time frame saves millions in development costs while enabling revenues to come in sooner than expected. “From a financial perspective, every year that you save is a huge opportunity cost for investors,” says Gal Munda, an analyst at Berenberg Capital Markets.

Hansen is now worth $3 billion, thanks to the company’s white-hot December IPO. Asked about his meteoric rise into the three-comma club, Hansen is low-key: “It feels just a little bit surreal.” He’s more articulate about the biotech’s success: “If this example of Covid shows one thing, to me, it’s the proof point of the business model and the technology.”Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website. Send me a secure tip

Alex Knapp

Alex Knapp

I’m a senior editor at Forbes covering healthcare, science, and cutting edge technology. 

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AbCellera Biologics CEO Carl Hansen joins ‘Closing Bell’ to discuss the company’s partnership with Eli Lilly in developing monoclonal antibody treatment and the company’s Covid-19 treatments. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi​ » Subscribe to CNBC TV: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCtelevision​ » Subscribe to CNBC: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC​ » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCclassic​ Turn to CNBC TV for the latest stock market news and analysis. From market futures to live price updates CNBC is the leader in business news worldwide. The News with Shepard Smith is CNBC’s daily news podcast providing deep, non-partisan coverage and perspective on the day’s most important stories. Available to listen by 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT daily beginning September 30: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/29/the-n…​ Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/​ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC​ Follow CNBC News on Facebook: https://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC​ Follow CNBC News on Twitter: https://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC​ Follow CNBC News on Instagram: https://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBChttps://www.cnbc.com/select/best-cred..

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Japanese Supercomputer Shows How Coronavirus Spreads In A Dining Setting

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidance to say that the Covid-19 virus can “linger in the air for minutes to hours” and occur between people spaced more than six feet apart.  

This followed a CDC study last month that found that adults with Covid-19 were twice as likely to have dined out at a restaurant within two weeks prior to being infected.

A new simulation from the Fugaku supercomputer in Japan demonstrates how the seating arrangement can make a difference to how easily the coronavirus is transmitted to dining companions at the same table. Recommended For You

Japanese researchers from Kobe University and the research giant Riken tasked Fugaku, the world’s fastest supercomputer, to model how the coronavirus spreads in a typical dining situation. The simulation shows the emission and flow of aerosol particles when four people are sitting a table and speaking without masks on.

The first takeaway from the Fugaku simulation is that the seating arrangement matters. When an infected individual speaks to dining companions seated across the table, four times as many exhaled aerosol droplets reach the person seated directly across the table compared to the person seated diagonally from the speaker.

The person seated next to an infected person is the most at risk. When an infected person turns his head sideways to speak to the dining companion next to him, that individual is exposed to more than five times the amount of exhaled droplets than the individual directly across the table from the speaker.

This research also implies that diners can further reduce risk by keeping face masks on when conversing before food arrives and after they have finished eating.

“When people with Covid-19 cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe they produce respiratory droplets,” explains the CDC guidance. “These droplets can range in size from larger droplets (some of which are visible) to smaller droplets. Small droplets can also form particles when they dry very quickly in the airstream.”

A second takeaway from the same Japanese research is that humidity levels can have a significant impact on how easily droplets are transmitted. The scientists found that fewer droplets are dispersed when humidity is higher, which suggests that the use of humidifiers in indoor settings may help limit infections if window ventilation is not possible.

Public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, have expressed concern about dining in dry, heated indoor environments during the the winter months. “People will be spending more time indoors, and that’s not good for combating a respiratory-borne virus,” Fauci told MSNBC.

Toward that effort, the leaders of New York City and Chicago and other cities are creating initiatives to make outdoor dining a reality throughout the coming winter.

Fugaku is the product of a $1 billion, decade-long mission by several thousand developers from the government-run Riken Center for Computational Science and computer maker Fujitsu. Since the pandemic began, Fugaku has been creating simulations that demonstrate the ease with which the coronavirus spreads in various settings, including on trains, in work spaces and in classrooms.

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Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

I’m always looking for new ways to travel better, smarter, deeper and cheaper, and spend a lot of time watching trends at the intersection of travel and technology. As a longtime freelance travel writer, I’ve contributed hundreds of articles to Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Travel Leisure, Afar, Reader’s Digest, TripSavvy, Parade, NBCNews.com, Good Housekeeping, Parents, Parenting, Esquire, Newsweek, The Boston Globe and scores of other outlets. Over the years, I’ve run an authoritative family vacation-planning site; interviewed Michelin-starred chefs, ship captains, taxi drivers and dog mushers; reviewed hundreds of places to stay, from stately castles and windswept lighthouses to rustic cabins and kitschy motels; ridden the iconic Orient Express; basked in the glory of Machu Picchu; and much more. Follow me on Instagram (@suzannekelleher) and Flipboard (@SRKelleher).

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Nippon TV News 24 Japan 10.8K subscribers Researchers use the supercomputer Fugaku to simulate how droplets of the novel coronavirus spread. ********************** Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/NipponTVNew… Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NipponTVNews… ********************** #NipponTVNews24Japan#NTV#日テレ#Japannews#Japanvideo#Japan#Coronavirus#COVID19#Fugaku#Supercomputer#SupercomputerFugaku#coronavirusinfection#Riken#coronavirusresearch#coronavirusdroplet

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Global Covid-19 Infections Surpass 40 Million, 1.1 Million Deaths

The number of new Covid-19 infections around the world continues to grow, passing the grim milestone of 40 million on Monday morning as much of Europe and the U.S. struggle to contain a new surge in infections, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.   

Key Facts

The U.S. leads the world with over 8 million confirmed cases, with nearly 220,000 deaths.

India and Brazil have also been hit hard by the novel coronavirus, with 7.6 million and 5.2 million cases and around 150,000 and 115,000 deaths respectively. 

It took just one month for cases around the world to swell from 30 million to 40 million. 

Key Facts: 

This number is likely to be a gross underestimation of Covid-19 cases around the world, relying on official data of confirmed cases. Not all those who have caught Covid-19 will be tested, especially if symptoms are mild. Test availability is inconsistent around the world, further hindering accurate reporting of cases. Some countries have been accused of deliberately lying and deceiving about the number of cases they’ve had. 

Further Reading

Global coronavirus cases hit 40 million as second wave gathers pace (CNBC)

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Nearly 30 Million People Have Contracted Covid-19 Around The World (Forbes)

Global coronavirus cases surpass the 40 million milestone (Reuters)

Russia’s covid-19 outbreak is far worse than the Kremlin admits (Economist)

Full coverage and live updates on the CoronavirusFollow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

Robert Hart

 Robert Hart

I am a London-based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news. Previously, I have worked as a reporter for a specialist legal publication covering big data and as a freelance journalist and policy analyst covering science, tech and health. I have a master’s degree in Biological Natural Sciences and a master’s degree in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge. Follow me on Twitter @theroberthart or email me at rhart@forbes.com 

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Our top story this morning. Global COVID-19 infections have now surpassed 40 million,… after seeing an increase of one million over the last three days alone. Lee Seung-jae reports. COVID-19 has now infected over 40 million people worldwide,… since the first cases were identified in Wuhan, China last December. The death toll currently stands at over 1-point-1 million,… with a mortality rate of 2-point-8 percent. With an average of one million cases being reported every three days,…

The world is seeing some of the biggest single day jumps since the initial outbreak,… with numbers exceeding 400-thousand in a single day on Friday,… for the first time ever. Among the worst hit countries in the world,… the U.S. remains at the top with over 8-point-3 million cases and 224-thousand deaths. The worst may yet to come for the U.S.,… as the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned last week,… that the country is “facing a whole lot of trouble” heading into the winter months. According to data by Johns Hopkins University,…

Average daily cases were already up by more than 5-percent in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Europe continues to see its infections reach all-time highs,… including Italy,…which registered 10-thousand-925 cases on Saturday,… surpassing its previous record posted the day before. France and Germany also reported record daily cases on Saturday,… as new restrictions went into effect. France reported over 32-thousand cases in a 24 hour span,… as the country deployed 12-thousand extra police officers to enforce their latest quarantine measures. The continent is seeing the fastest increase in COVID-19 cases,… and has so far seen over 6-point-7 million cases and more than 237-thousand deaths. Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News. 2020-10-19, 07:00 (KST) #COVID19 #US #Europe 📣 Arirang News(Facebook) : https://www.facebook.com/arirangtvnews 📣 Arirang News(Twitter) : https://twitter.com/arirangtvnews 📣 News Center(YouTube) : https://www.youtube.com/c/NEWSCENTER_…

MORE: https://globalnews.ca/news/7303904/eu… For more info, please go to http://www.globalnews.ca Subscribe to Global News Channel HERE: http://bit.ly/20fcXDc Like Global News on Facebook HERE: http://bit.ly/255GMJQ Follow Global News on Twitter HERE: http://bit.ly/1Toz8mt Follow Global News on Instagram HERE: https://bit.ly/2QZaZIB#Coronavirus#GlobalNews#COVID-19

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U.S. Accounts For Almost 1 In 4 Covid Deaths As Global Toll Exceeds 600,000

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More than 600,000 people across the globe have now died after being diagnosed with coronavirus, with the U.S. accounting for almost a quarter of all deaths as the Trump administration reportedly prepares to block billions of dollars of funding earmarked for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as testing.

More than 602,000 people have died with coronavirus around the world since the start of the outbreak in late 2019, the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University show.The U.S. makes up more than 140,000 of those deaths , along with more than 3.7 million infections out of 14.3 million global cases to date.

 

The latest figures follow another day of record new infections around the world, with 260,000 new cases reported to the World Health Organization on Saturday. This week, Florida and Texas set new records for deaths in each state, in line with a rising number of deaths nationwide this month after a period of deaths falling. Florida saw a record 156 people dying with coronavirus on Thursday, breaking a record set only one week earlier, while in Texas, the number of people who died in one day reached 129, also on Thursday.

 

It comes as the Trump administration is, according to a Washington Post report, seeking to convince Senate Republicans to cut $25 billion worth of funding towards testing efforts and the CDC from the next round of stimulus proposals.

Key background

Coronavirus hospitalizations in the U.S. are now rising to levels not seen since April, after a period of decrease in May and June. New cases are also rising, while testing is on the rise, according to data from the COVID tracking project. ICUs in states including Georgia, Nevada, Texas and Arizona are at more than 70% capacity when counting all patients, while nationwide, 1 in 12 people in a hospital bed has coronavirus, according to CDC data. Officials in Arizona said this week that they have doubled morgue capacity as they anticipate a surge in deaths, while Texas has also ordered more refrigerators and body bags.

Tangent

President Donald Trump claimed during his Tulsa rally back in June that he had asked administration officials to slow down testing. He implied that increased testing was behind a surge in cases, but later claimed the remark was a joke.

Big number

43 out of 50 states have witnessed a rise in coronavirus infections over the past two weeks, according to Reuters.

Further reading

Repeating N.Y.’s Nightmare, Texas And Arizona Request Refrigerated Trucks For Filling Morgues (Forbes)

Florida And Texas Both Set Coronavirus Death Records Thursday (Forbes)

Report: Trump Wants To Block Funding For Virus Testing, CDC In Next Stimulus Package (Forbes)

Current Hospital Capacity Estimates – Snapshot (CDC)

US Daily Cumulative Totals (COVID Tracking Project)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

I am a breaking news reporter for Forbes in London, covering Europe and the U.S. Previously I was a news reporter for HuffPost UK, the Press Association and a night reporter at the Guardian. I studied Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics, where I was a writer and editor for one of the university’s global affairs magazines, the London Globalist. That led me to Goldsmiths, University of London, where I completed my M.A. in Journalism. Got a story? Get in touch at isabel.togoh@forbes.com, or follow me on Twitter @bissieness. I look forward to hearing from you.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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