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Interest in Avacta’s Affimer technology continues to grow as biotech unveils latest research partnership

This time it is with OncoSec Medical, which wants to use its own gene delivery platform to deliver Avacta’s Affimers into tumour cells

cell in the body
Protein drugs such as Affimers can be delivered to a patient by injection or cells in the body can be made to make the protein if the DNA blueprint of the protein can be placed into the cells

The interest in Avacta Group PLC’s (LON:AVCT) Affimer technology continues to grow as the junior biotech announced another collaboration on Monday, this time with OncoSec Medical Inc (NASDAQ:ONCS).

Last week chief executive Alastair Smith said he had spoken with a lot of companies at a recent conference which were keen on teaming up with his firm.

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

OncoSec, on the other hand, has developed a gene delivery technology called ImmunoPulse which it wants to use to deliver Affimers - including Avacta’s PD-L1 inhibitor - into tumour cells and other tissues.

The companies plan to then demonstrate the efficacy of the Affimers in a relevant in vivo tumour model.

‘Potentially very large opportunity’

“Avacta is receiving a lot of interest in the Affimer platform for gene delivery and this is the third collaboration in this hugely important area following our partnerships with Moderna Therapeutics and FIT Biotech,” said Smith.

“This is potentially a very large opportunity for Avacta and a successful outcome of the collaborative work with OncoSec would not only create the potential for the two companies to consider future co-developments but would also support Affimer licensing deals more widely in this rapidly growing field.”

Both Avacta and OncoSec will bear their own internal costs, while any third-party costs will be shared, although they are expected to be minimal.

Broker: ‘Avacta building momentum’

“Combining Avacta’s Affimers with OncoSec's gene delivery technology should create assets for co-development and/or licensing,” said finnCap analyst Mark Brewer.

“It illustrates the interest in gene delivery, given the potential to reduce development timelines compared with those for a conventional therapeutic protein.

“No change to forecasts or target price, but once again this illustrates the broadening utility of Affimers and the increasing interest shown by third-party pharma who see the potential of the Affimer platform.”

Shares nudged 1.2% higher to 67.3p on Monday morning.

--Updates for broker comment and share price--

Quick facts: Avacta Group PLC

Price: 154 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £386 m

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