Yorkshire’s Avacta playing key role in the fight against Zika virus

Alistair Smith, CEO of Avacta.   (BR1003 36a)  23 February 2015.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Alistair Smith, CEO of Avacta. (BR1003 36a) 23 February 2015. Picture Bruce Rollinson
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DIAGNOSTICS specialist Avacta Group, which makes devices to speed up and reduce the cost of drug development, is doing its bit to combat the spread of the Zika virus.

The Wetherby-based company is best known for developing affimers – a high-tech alternative to anti-bodies.

In a pre-close trading update, the company revealed that it had been involved in the rapid generation and validation of three “highly specific” affimer binders to the Zika virus.

Last month, Avacta revealed that it is to collaborate with the medical firm Glythera to develop a new cancer drug.

Dr Alastair Smith, Avacta group’s chief executive, said: “We have made good progress in the key areas that we set out at the half year, in our detailed strategy for commercialisation of affimer reagents for research, diagnostics and therapeutics.

“There are a significant number of affimer technology evaluations now ongoing and we continue to grow the pipeline of such partnerships that will ultimately deliver a stream of ‘affimer powered’ products to underpin long-term revenue growth.

“We have delivered on some important commercial objectives, including establishing collaborations with Mologic to validate Affimer reagents in a key diagnostics application and with Glythera to develop Affimer proteins for targeted drug delivery.

“The success of our programme to develop specific affimer binders to the Zika NS-1 protein is a perfect example of the speed with which high quality affimer reagents can be developed to answer an urgent need where there is a gap in the antibody offering.

“I look forward to updating the market as we develop these and other products further with clinical and commercial partners.”

Revenues for the year ended July 31, 2016 grew by approximately 19 per cent to £2.15m, which is in line with market expectations, Avacta said. New laboratories and offices in both Cambridge and Wetherby are now operational, providing the company with first class facilities and growth capacity, Avacta said.