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Avacta boss praises “strong” progress made in first half

“We have continued to grow the number and extent of the data packages demonstrating the power of the Affimer technology in therapeutic and non-therapeutic applications which build the commercial case and de-risk the technology for third parties”

affimer technology
Affimers are small, engineered proteins that can attach themselves to antigens, in a similar way to antibodies

Shares in Avacta Group PLC (LON:AVCT) edged higher on Thursday morning after the biotech praised the “strong technical and commercial progress” it has made over the past six months.

Avacta is a pioneer of Affimer technology - small, engineered proteins that are capable of binding specific molecular targets, in a similar way to antibodies.

In-house progress

It said its lead PD-L1 programme is on track to deliver “several key pre-clinical milestones” in 2018 having recently selected the most promising inhibitor to go forward to first-in-man clinical trials in 2019.

The discovery programme continues to deliver a pipeline of Affimer binders to other important immuno-oncology targets, it added.

Avacta also noted the “excellent” pharmacokinetic data obtained in mice for its Affimer XT half-life extension platform.

“Solid progress” with partners

Complementing its own in-house programme, Avacta has a partnership with Moderna Therapeutics, as well as collaborations with the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and Newcastle-based Glythera Ltd.

In fact, the relationship with Glythera deepened earlier this week when the two inked a licensing deal that will see them work together to develop drug conjugates using their combined technologies.

There’s also a tie-up with FIT Biotech Oy which was established to demonstrate the effectiveness of the combined technologies for gene-delivered Affimer therapeutics, with data expected in the second quarter of this year.

Interest growing

The AIM-quoted company once again highlighted the rising interest in Affimer reagents, which continue to excite the scientific community.

The six months was a “record period” for the publication of peer-reviewed research papers about Affimers, Avacta said.

On the financial side of things, the company expects half-year revenue, losses and cash balances to be in line with market forecasts.

More partnerships discussed

“I am very pleased with the continued strong technical and commercial progress across the business,” said chief executive Alastair Smith.

“We have continued to grow the number and extent of the data packages demonstrating the power of the Affimer technology in therapeutic and non-therapeutic applications.

READ: Avacta agrees licensing deal with antibody drug conjugates specialist Glythera

“It is particularly important to see that the rate of Affimer end-user publications is growing and commercial partners, such as Covance, are speaking publicly about their successful Affimer projects. These are powerful marketing tools as we build awareness of the Affimer platform.”

Smith also mentioned that he presented at the JP Morgan conference in San Francisco last week where he met over 25 biotech and pharma companies to discuss the benefits of Affimer technology and possible partnerships.

“Some of these have already followed up indicating their interest in further discussions [and] I look forward to keeping the market updated on the fruits of these discussions during 2018,” Smith said.

Shares were up 3.1% to 69.1p on Thursday morning.

Quick facts: Avacta Group PLC

Price: 160 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £401.04 m

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