3 Feburary 2020
Avacta Group plc
("Avacta" or "the Group" or "the Company")
Avacta and Daewoong Agree Collaboration and License Agreement with AffyXell Therapeutics
License agreement to utilise Affimer proteins in next generation cell and gene therapies
Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and reagents, is pleased to announce that it has signed a collaboration and license agreement with AffyXell Therapeutics ("AffyXell"), the recently established joint venture with Daewoong Pharmaceutical ("Daewoong"), to develop Affimer proteins to be used by AffyXell for the generation of new cell and gene therapies.
Avacta and AffyXell will now work together to develop Affimer proteins against a range of targets which, when produced by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), are intended to inhibit inflammatory and autoimmune pathways and improve the overall efficacy of MSCs, creating a next generation of stem cell therapies.
The initial focus for AffyXell will be on inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. In the longer term, there is potential for AffyXell to address oncology uses for these Affimer-enabled cell and gene therapies.
Under the terms of the collaboration and license agreement, Avacta's research and development costs associated with generation of the Affimer proteins will be funded by AffyXell. In addition, Avacta will retain the rights to commercialise the Affimer proteins outside of the field of cell therapies.
Dr Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Avacta Group, commented:
"The potential for AffyXell's new class of cell therapies, which can be applied to a wide range of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, is enormous. We are therefore very excited by the opportunity to be part of this new venture and to demonstrate the power of Affimer proteins in the field of engineered cell therapies.
"Our objective is for these cell therapies to finally fully address diseases, such as inflammatory bowel diseases and multiple sclerosis, as well as other autoimmune diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The potential to make a difference in the quality of life for millions of patients continues to inspires us, as we know it does our colleagues at Daewoong as well.
"From a commercial perspective, the global stem cell market is expected to be worth USD16bn* by 2025. AffyXell has a unique opportunity to combine two world-class technologies, Avacta's Affimer antibody mimetic platform and Daewoong's proprietary technology for generating "off-the-shelf" allogeneic MSC therapies to create the next generation of stem cell therapies. We believe that this has the potential to create substantial value for stakeholders in the near future."
Seng-ho Jeon, CEO of Daewoong Pharmaceutical, commented:
"We are very excited to contract this Collaboration and License Agreement followed by the successful establishment of an innovative joint venture, AffyXell. Daewoong and Avacta will make every effort to AffyXell's growth and its development of distinguished and innovative cell and gene therapy treatment.
"As announced at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference this January, Daewoong has been inspired to partner global biotechnology companies like Avacta to create the best and the most comprehensive technology in new drug development field. Starting from our very first cell and gene therapy specialized joint company, we reaffirm our belief that our contract can not only further establish AffyXell to thrive as an leader of cell and gene therapy, but also, allow us to enhance quality of lives to those who suffer from rare and intractable conditions."
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For further information from Avacta Group plc, please contact:
Avacta Group plc
Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer
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About Avacta Group plc - https://www.avacta.com
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 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 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.
Avacta's pre|CISION targeted chemotherapy platform, releases active chemotherapy only in the tumour, thereby limiting systemic exposure and damage to healthy tissues, and thereby 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. Avacta expects to take its first drug, a pre|CISION targeted form of the standard-of-care Doxorubicin, into the clinic in the middle of 2020.
Avacta has established drug development partnerships with pharma and biotech, including with Moderna Therapeutics Inc., a deal with LG Chem worth up to $310m, and a partnership with ADC Therapeutics. Avacta actively seeks to license its proprietary platforms in a range of therapeutic areas.
Avacta diagnostics business unit works with partners world-wide to develop Affimers for evaluation by those third parties with the objective of establishing royalty bearing license deals. The Company is also developing a small in-house pipeline of Affimer-based diagnostic assays for licensing.
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About Daewoong Pharmaceutical - http://www.daewoong.com
Established in 1945, Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. is a leading South Korean pharmaceutical company that develops, manufactures, and commercializes pharmaceuticals for both domestic and international markets. With its strong and competent in-house R&D and qualified manufacturing facilities (cGMP), Daewoong provides a total healthcare solution to customers across the globe. Aiming to become a global healthcare company, Daewoong has broadened international operations by establishing branch offices and research centers throughout Asia and the United States. Also Daewoong has expanded strategic partnerships in more than 100 countries worldwide.