Biotech firm Avacta Group PLC (LON:AVCT) is gaining commercial traction with its Affimer technology after it inked a licensing deal for the tech with a “very high quality partner” in the form of enzyme discovery and production company New England Biolabs (NEB).
“They’re a super partner, very well respected in the sector” says Avacta’s chief executive Alastair Smith, adding that NEB is a “leading supplier” to the life sciences sector.
The company has been collaborating with NEB for a while to develop Affimers that combine with NEB’s reagents (a substance used for chemical analysis).
Unlike alternative enzyme inhibitors, Affimers can be fine-tuned to switch at the right temperature without having a negative effect on the overall assay performance.
NEB is in the final stages of product testing and has agreed with Avacta the terms under which the combined product will be commercialised, with Avacta receiving royalties on sales which could begin as soon as 2019.
“It’s a great validation of the technology,” Smith says, adding that commercially there was “a reasonable royalty stream” expected soon that would likely clock in around six-figures.
“We’ve made very solid technical progress over the last few years, and now we’re gradually getting these high-profile partners over the line” Smith said.
The company added that it expected to continue the collaboration with NEB to generate Affimer tools and inhibitors for other enzymes, enabling further product developments.
Affimers presented at leading biotech conference
Avacta also presented data on its Affirmer technology to the Biomarkers and Precision Medicine Congress (BPMC) in mid-October.
The BPMC gathers over 300 delegates from leading biotech companies, global pharma organisations and internationally renowned academic institutions to discuss key issues in biomarker research, companion diagnostics, personalised medicine and clinical biomarkers.
NEB follows Bach
The deal with NEB follows a major co-development agreement with another US business, Bach BioSciences, in July.
In what is described as a “ground-breaking” co-invention, the two companies have developed a new class of drug conjugate for cancer.
Traditional antibody-drug conjugates, or ADCs, are designed to harness the targeting ability of monoclonal antibodies by linking them to cell-killing agents.
The newly-developed technology uses Avacta’s Affimers instead of antibodies.
Its engineered proteins have several innovative and distinctive features, which could potentially make them a better tool than antibodies for therapeutic applications.
They are smaller, quicker to manufacture and easier to format than antibodies, but they maintain antibody-like biologic activity when binding a target.
With shares trading at around 22.6p, Avacta carries a market cap of £26.1mln.