Avacta Group Plc (LON:AVCT) is the proprietary owner of Affimer technology for the development of bio-therapeutics, diagnostic tests and research reagents. Affimers represent a radical alternative to established antibody technology which dominates the drug industry, despite its limitations. Avacta has made considerable progress towards its strategic goal to be ready to enter first-in-man Affimer trials by the end of 2019. Recent results highlighted significant progress made in its in-house therapeutic programmes with the first in-vivo studies showing safety, tolerability and efficacy of an Affimer. This adds to the de-risking of Affimer technology and attracting potential partners.
Strategy: To commercialise its Affimer technology through a combination of bespoke research tools, collaborative deals and by identifying and developing its own proprietary therapeutic Affimer leads. Avacta has sufficient cash resources to identify an Affimer lead to be ready for first-in-man in 2019.
FY 2017: Revenues increased by +26% to £2.74m, with the Affimer business accounting for 42%. Avacta sees endorsements of its technology with 91% YOY increase of the order book for custom Affimers, partnerships being signed for diagnostic and therapeutic applications, and multiple on-going evaluations.
In-house R&D: First disclosure of the in-house research pipeline focusing on the immuno-oncology field. The most advanced project targeting the PD-L1 receptor is advancing apace with selection of a Lead Affimer and several in vivo experiments showing, for the first time, the efficacy, safety and tolerability.
Partnerships: Avacta continues to attract partners in both the therapeutic and diagnostic fields. Several new targets were selected in the existing Moderna partnership and Avacta signed a major deal with one of the top three global diagnostic companies, creating potential for future revenues and royalty streams.
Investment summary: Avacta Group Plc has made considerable progress towards its goal of having its own proprietary Affimer-based drugs and growing a profitable reagents business, which is not yet being reflected in the share price. In just 18 months, AVCT has identified potential leads and completed in vitro and in vivo pharmacokinetic pre-clinical tests, efficacy and immunogenicity tests. The next step is to select its immuno-oncology lead candidate for filing as an IND in 2018.