Avacta Group plc (LON:AVCT), the developer of innovative cancer therapies and diagnostics based on its proprietary Affimer® and pre|CISIONTM platforms, has announced its unaudited interim results for the six-month period ended 30 June 2020.
· Established AffyXell Therapeutics, a joint venture in South Korea with Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., a leading Korean pharmaceutical company, to develop the next generation of cell and gene therapies incorporating Affimer proteins.
· Demonstrated initial proof-of-concept for its proprietary new class of drug conjugate, “TMACTM”, in a pre-clinical animal model of cancer.
· Collaboration with Cytiva (formerly GE Healthcare Life Sciences) to develop a rapid test for the COVID-19 coronavirus antigen for mass population screening.
· Collaboration with Adeptrix to develop a high throughput Affimer-based SARS-CoV-2 antigen bead-assisted mass spectrometry test to be used on hospitals’ existing installed base of mass spectrometers to diagnose COVID-19 infection.
· Exclusive distribution agreement announced with Medusa19 Limited for direct-to-consumer sales of a saliva-based rapid test for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein antigen.
· Collaborative work with the Centre for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow showed that certain Affimer reagents which bind to the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein prevent infection of human cells by a SARS-CoV-2 model virus, and therefore provide a potential therapy for COVID-19 infection.
· Fundraisings completed during the period raising £53.8 million to expand Diagnostics and Therapeutics programmes.
· Cash balance increased to £54.5 million (30 June 2019: £5.6 million; 31 December 2019: £8.8 million).
· Revenues increased to £1.8 million (6 months to 30 June 2019: £1.1 million; 17 months to 31 December 2019: £5.5 million).
· Operating loss of £8.1 million (6 months to 30 June 2019: £6.6 million; 17 months to 31 December 2019: £18.0 million), with research and amortisation of development costs increasing to £4.2 million (6 months to 30 June 2019: £2.9 million; 17 months to 31 December 2019: £10.1 million).
· Increased R&D investment leading to reported loss of £7.0 million (6 months to 30 June 2019: £5.7 million, 17 months to 31 December 2019: £15.6 million).
· Expansion of collaboration and license agreement with Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (KSX: 069620) and AffyXell, the joint venture established in South Korea by the two companies, to develop stem cell treatments incorporating Avacta’s neutralising Affimer therapy for the treatment of seriously ill patients with COVID-19 and to also prepare to rapidly develop similar therapies for future global pandemics.
· Expansion of existing multi-target collaboration and development agreement with LG Chem Life Sciences (“LG Chem”), the life sciences division of the South Korean LG Group, to include new programmes incorporating Avacta’s Affimer XT™ serum half-life extension system.
· Appointment of Neil Bell as Chief Development Officer of Avacta Life Sciences responsible for the late stage pre-clinical and early clinical development of Avacta’s pipeline of pre|CISION pro-drugs and Affimer immunotherapies.
· Appointed BBI Solutions, part of BBI Group (“BBI”), and Abingdon Health to manufacture the saliva-based rapid SARS-CoV-2 antigen test being developed with Cytiva.
· Commenced collaboration with the UK government’s CONDOR programme to evaluate and clinically validate the BAMSTM test developed with Adeptrix (Beverly, MA, USA).
· Entered into a collaboration with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (“LSTM”) to provide clinical validation of the rapid, saliva-based coronavirus antigen test.
· Announced launch of an ELISA laboratory test for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to support global research efforts into the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
· Collaboration with Integumen plc (AIM: SKIN) (“Integumen”) to evaluate recently generated Affimer reagents that bind the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein for the detection of the coronavirus in waste water, to provide a real-time alert system to warn of localised COVID-19 outbreaks.
Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Avacta Group, commented:
“It has been a period of significant advancement despite the restrictions placed upon all of us by the coronavirus pandemic and I am immensely proud of the Avacta team for having delivered substantial progress under these difficult conditions.
We have several momentous milestones ahead of us with the anticipated launch of a rapid, saliva based coronavirus antigen lateral flow test and the planned phase I study for AVA6000 pro-doxorubicin, the first pre|CISION pro-drug.
There are multiple other opportunities in the pipeline that have been created by the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binding Affimers, such as the BAMSTM assay with Adeptrix and several others that we will update the market on in due course. We are working tirelessly to bring all of these opportunities to the point of revenue generation as quickly as we possibly can.
The recent placing has also allowed us to resource an expanded Affimer immunotherapy and pre|CISION chemotherapy pipeline and substantially increase the size of the research and clinical development teams at our Cambridge site to deliver on this. I am very pleased indeed that we now have the resources available to begin to unlock the potential of these two innovative and powerful therapeutic platforms.
It will be a very exciting and genuinely transformational year ahead for Avacta, as we work with our partners to progress through each of the necessary stages to deliver on all of these opportunities and I look forward to keeping the market updated as we hit the major milestones.”