Avacta reveals ‘transformational’ US deal

Avacta Group PLC, Thorp Arch Trading Centre..Scientist Vincent Agbo pictured in the lab..16th August 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
Avacta Group PLC, Thorp Arch Trading Centre..Scientist Vincent Agbo pictured in the lab..16th August 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
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SHARES with biotech firm Avacta soared after it announced a co-development partnership with Tufts University to develop new cancer drugs.

The Wetherby-based group has reached an agreement with Bach BioSciences the firm which commercialises the research of William Bachovchin, Professor of Developmental, Chemical and Molecular Biology at the Boston University.

The deal, described by Avacta’s chief executive as “transformational”, will see the two bodies develop a new class of Affimer drug conjugate therapies that combines Avacta’s Affimer technology with drug conjugates developed at Tufts.

Avacta has exclusive rights to commercialise these novel drug conjugates.

Shares leapt by as much as 60 per cent in early trading following the announcement and with a rise of 33 per cent.

Dr Alastair Smith, chief executive at Avacta Group, said the firm was “very excited indeed” by the deal.

“We believe that this new drug conjugate platform is transformational for the business.

“From our initial discussions with several large pharmaceutical companies, it is clear that there is significant interest and there is certainly the potential for partnering at an early stage once we have the appropriate supporting data from the collaboration with Professor Bachovchin.

“Broad patent protection for this dual mode of action therapy would be extremely valuable because it could be applied to a wide range of cancers for which patient response to checkpoint inhibitors alone is not high.”

Dr Amrik Basran, chief scientific officer of Avacta Group, added that the move would make a meaningful difference to the lives of a great many cancer patients.

The Wetherby-based ​group says it is on target to come up with a possible cure for ​​lung, breast and bowel cancer within the next 10 years.

Avacta will start human trials in 2020 to help cure people with lung cancer using its ground breaking technology.

Avacta’s Affimer technology is based around Affimers - the firm’s high-tech alternative to antibodies. Affimers zone in on the cancer cells bypassing the body’s healthy cells.