Humabs BioMed (subsidiary of Vir Biotechnology Inc.), a Swiss company based in Bellinzona, is a tangible example of a private business enterprise capable of seizing the opportunity offered by the fundamental research carried out in the Canton, in particular at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine. Based on the classic start-up model, from 2004 Humabs was initially incubated at IRB, eventually gaining independence albeit maintaining a close relationship with the favourable academic environment and protecting the uniqueness of the scientific discoveries. Specifically, IRB has granted Humabs a license to use a few of its technological platforms for the discovery and selection of human monoclonal antibodies for prophylactic or therapeutic use in the field of infectious diseases. With this operating model, Humabs enables basic research to find applications in the medical field.
The success of the collaboration between Humabs and the IRB is measurable by the international relevance of the discoveries made, for instance in the field of human antibodies to fight the Ebola virus, rabies or the Zika virus, but most importantly by the acquisition (August 2017) of Humabs BioMed by US-based company Vir Biotechnology, which is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.