Avacta Plc (LON:AVCT) is a pre-clinical biotechnology company and the proprietary owner of Affimer technology. Affimers represent a radical alternative to the established antibody technology, which continues to dominate the drug industry, despite its limitations. The significant technical and commercial benefits of Affimers is being recognised though increased corporate interest, on-going evaluations, and deal flow. The successful research collaboration with Fit Biotech provides evidence for the feasibility of using Affimer gene delivery in vivo. This represents an additional opportunity for Avacta to develop and partner Affimers as therapeutics.
Strategy: AVCT is aiming to commercialise its Affimer technology through bespoke research tools, collaborative deals and by identifying and developing its own proprietary therapeutic leads. AVCT has sufficient cash resources to identify an Affimer lead to be ready for first-in-man trials in 2019.
FIT collaboration: AVCT, together with its research collaborator, FIT Biotech, has completed successfully a proof-of-concept study showing that a single dose of Affimer DNA leads to clinically relevant levels of Affimer drug in mice. This opens up new opportunities for Affimer therapeutics.
Relevance: In addition to being a major technical advance, the experiment reflects the versatility of the Affimer platform. A better expression of the Affimer was observed for up to a month following a single injection, with a significantly higher level compared to the antibody control.
Risks: Affimers represent a new disruptive technology and the potential customer base might take time to recognise their advantages. While all new drug development carries a high risk, Avacta has hit a number of important milestones over the last two years which have reduced the risk profile.
Investment summary: Avacta Plc has made considerable progress towards its goal of having its own proprietary Affimer-based drugs and growing a profitable reagents business. By itself, the company has identified potential leads and completed both in vitro and in vivo pharmacokinetic pre-clinical, efficacy and immunogenicity tests. Awareness of the potential of Affimers is also being enhanced through the rising number of collaborative deals being signed.