Avacta looks to Optim upgrade

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DIAGNOSTICS specialist Avacta said sales of its flagship Optim device have been slow but an upgrade should deliver “significant” long-term benefits.

The Wetherby-based company makes devices to speed up and reduce the cost of drug development. Avacta says its Optim device delivers vital information tens of times faster than other approaches using much smaller samples.

Avacta said its upgraded Optim 2 device features new software and needs less service and maintenance.

Avacta added improved design and component sourcing increased the margins it earns on the device and its cartridges.

Optim 2 is now being sold in North America, South East Asia and India through distributor Pall’s ForteBio division.

Avacta said sales were slow in the six months to the end of January as it switched to the new device and supplier. “However, ForteBio’s exceptional technical and market knowledge is very encouraging and Avacta is now beginning to see positive results that support the view that long-term benefits will be significant,” it said.

Avacta, spun out of the University of Leeds, said its animal health testing arm has exceeded expectations despite recessionary pressure on vets. Its AX1 bench-top analyser was field tested in 2012 and Avacta expects to make its first sales this spring.

Last year the group bought Aptuscan Ltd, a technology company spun out of the University of Leeds. Aptuscan develops proteins which act like antibodies, but are not prone to the weaknesses and damage which affect antibodies.

Its non-antibody ‘affinity reagents’ can be easily modified, and used in a wide range of scientific processes – including diagnosis, purifying and therapy. Avacta said it expects its first sales from bespoke affinity reagents this year.