Avacta plc (LON: AVCT) CEO Alastair Smith joins DirectorsTalk to discuss its trading update for the 17 month period ended 31 December 2019. Alastair explains why its a 17 month reporting period, what drove the strong growth, why the cash position is better than expected and what investors should be looking out for over the year.
Avacta is developing novel cancer immunotherapies combining its two proprietary platforms – Affimer® biotherapeutics and pre|CISION™ tumour targeted chemotherapy. With this approach, the Company aims to address the lack of a durable response to current immunotherapies experienced by most patients. The Company’s therapeutics development activities are based in Cambridge, UK.
The Company benefits from near-term revenues generated from Affimer reagents for diagnostics, bioprocessing and research, through a separate business unit based in Wetherby, UK.
The Affimer platform is an alternative to antibodies derived from a small human protein. Despite their shortcomings, antibodies currently dominate markets worth in excess of $100bn. Affimer technology has been designed to address many of these negative performance issues, principally: the time taken, and the reliance on an animal’s immune response, to generate new antibodies; poor specificity in many cases; large size and cost.
Avacta’s pre|CISION platform, activates chemotherapy only in the tumour, thereby limiting systemic exposure and damage to healthy tissues, and thus improving the overall safety and therapeutic potential of these powerful anti-cancer treatments.
By combining these two platforms the Company is building a wholly owned pipeline of novel cancer therapies with the aim of creating effective treatments for all cancer patients including those who do not respond to existing immunotherapies. Avacta expects to take its first drug, a pre|CISION targeted form of the standard-of-care Doxorubicin, into the clinic in the middle of 2020.
Avacta has established drug development partnerships with pharma and biotech, including with Moderna Therapeutics Inc., a collaboration with LG Chem to develop treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases worth up to $310m, a partnership with ADC Therapeutics to develop Affimer drug conjugates and a joint venture in South Korea with Daewoong Pharmaceuticals to develop the next generation of stem cell therapies that incorporate Affimer immuno-modulators. Avacta actively seeks to license its proprietary platforms in a range of therapeutic areas.
The Avacta diagnostics business unit works with partners world-wide to develop Affimers for evaluation by those third parties with the objective of establishing royalty bearing license deals. The Company is also developing a small in-house pipeline of Affimer-based diagnostic assays for licensing.