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Avacta Group

Avacta Group CEO says ‘Substantial long term and sustainable value growth for shareholders’ (Interview)

Avacta Group plc (LON:AVCT) CEO Alastair Smith joins DirectorsTalk to discuss preliminary results for the period ending 31st Dec 2019. Alastair talks us through the highlights, outlines the key objectives to the coming 12 to 18 months and reminds us of what has been achieved over the past 12 months.

Avacta is developing novel cancer immunotherapies combining its two proprietary platforms – Affimer® biotherapeutics and pre|CISION™ tumour targeted chemotherapy. With this approach, the Company aims to address the lack of a durable response to current immunotherapies experienced by most patients. The Company’s therapeutics development activities are based in Cambridge, UK.

The Affimer platform is an alternative to antibodies derived from a small human protein. Despite their shortcomings, antibodies currently dominate markets worth in excess of $100bn. Affimer technology has been designed to address many of these negative performance issues, principally: the time taken, and the reliance on an animal’s immune response, to generate new antibodies; poor specificity in many cases; large size and cost.

The company’s pre|CISION platform, activates chemotherapy only in the tumour, thereby limiting systemic exposure and damage to healthy tissues, and thus improving the overall safety and therapeutic potential of these powerful anti-cancer treatments.

By combining these two platforms the Company is building a wholly owned pipeline of novel cancer therapies with the aim of creating effective treatments for all cancer patients including those who do not respond to existing immunotherapies. AVCT expects to take its first drug, a pre|CISION targeted form of the standard-of-care doxorubicin, into the clinic in late 2020.

The company has established drug development partnerships with pharma and biotech, including with Moderna Therapeutics Inc., a collaboration with LG Chem to develop treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases worth up to $310m plus future royalties on product sales, a partnership with ADC Therapeutics to develop Affimer drug conjugates and a joint venture in South Korea with Daewoong Pharmaceuticals to develop the next generation of stem cell therapies that incorporate Affimer immuno-modulators. The company actively seeks to license its proprietary platforms in a range of therapeutic areas.

The Company benefits from near-term revenues generated from Affimer reagents for diagnostics, bioprocessing and research, through a separate business unit based in Wetherby, UK.

The Avacta Group diagnostics business unit works with partners world-wide to develop Affimers for evaluation by those third parties with the objective of establishing royalty bearing licensing deals. The Company is also developing a small in-house pipeline of Affimer-based diagnostic assays for licensing.

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