Avacta unveils growth plans

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DIAGNOSTICS specialist Avacta Group is to raise over £5m through a share placing to accelerate the company’s growth.

The Wetherby-based group also plans to buy Leeds-based Aptuscan for £1.5m and said much of the proceeds will be used to develop Aptuscan’s intellectual property.

Avacta designs and makes devices to speed up and reduce the cost of drug development and sample analysis.

Aptuscan makes proteins which can analyse and diagnose samples.

Avacta’s chief executive Dr Alastair Smith said: “The acquisition of Aptuscan would add a disruptive reagents platform to the Avacta portfolio, capable of enhancing the product offerings of both Avacta Analytical and Avacta Animal Health.”

Dr Smith said that the structure of the group will allow it to remain entirely focused on commercialising Optim and AX-1, with the Aptuscan technology becoming integrated into the group’s centralised product development function.

Avacta claims that its Optim device delivers vital information for pharmaceutical firms much faster than other approaches, thus slashing the cost of drug development.

The AX-1 diagnostics device is aimed at the $1.5bn veterinary market.

“The combination of current and proposed new technologies and intellectual property transforms the scale of Avacta’s opportunities and, following the placing, can be fulfilled without the need to return to the market,” said Dr Smith.

“Avacta is set on a very exciting course for the future,” he added.

The share placing is at a 36.3 per cent discount to the closing price on Wednesday.

Avacta said the money will be used to provide development capital for a wide range of analytical and diagnostic reagents based on Aptuscan’s proprietary affinity protein scaffold.

It will also help accelerate the Avacta Animal Healthcare business through the more rapid expansion of the range of tests for its AX-1 diagnostic units.

It will lastly provide development capital for further analytical and diagnostic products.

Avacta also said that University research incubator IP Group is planning a “significant investment” in the enlarged company, of which it will now control a 33.6 per cent stake.