Avacta set to break into new market sector

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DIAGNOSTICS firm Avacta Group​ said new research suggests that Affimers, ​its high-tech alternative to antibodies, could have significant commercial application for cereal crops.

The Wetherby-based firm said new data from the University of Copenhagen shows that Affimers can improve disease resistance in barley, one of the world’s major cereal crops.

This could herald a chance for Avacta to break into a new sector. At the moment Affimers have been designed for use in clinical research. Avacta makes devices to speed up and reduce the cost of drug development.

​The latest study found that Affimer technology produced a 40 per cent reduction in the susceptibility of barley to powdery mildew.

Avacta said these promising early results indicate the potential use of Affimer technology to treat and diagnose a wide range of diseases in plants.

​​Avacta’s CEO Alastair Smith said: “I am delighted to see the interesting results generated by Professor Hans Thordal-Christensen and his team.

“This innovative approach to combating plant pathogens is another good example of an application where antibodies cannot provide a practical solution and where, conversely, the Affimer technology shows promise.

“This work is an important further validation of the Affimer platform and we will continue to keep the market updated on any such results that we are able to share.”

Professor Hans Thordal-Christensen, at the University of Copenhagen,​ said:​ ​“An Affimer-based approach to improving resistance will be highly specific against the barley powdery mildew and it should be able to stop the disease development in its early stages.

​“​Solutions like this could hopefully make fungicide use unnecessary and problematic disease resistance a thing of the past.” ​