21 January 2019
Avacta Group plc
("Avacta", "the Group" or "the Company")
AGM Business Update and Notice of Results
Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and reagents, is today holding its Annual General Meeting at 2.00 pm. In conjunction with this meeting the Company is pleased to provide a business update ahead of its results for the six months ending 31 January 2019, which the Company expects to announce on Tuesday, 9 April 2019.
· Major development partnership and license agreement, potentially worth over $300m, established with LG Chem Life Sciences, part of the South Korean LG Group, to develop Affimer® therapeutics for oncology and the treatment of inflammatory diseases.
· Continuing to make good progress towards the Company's primary objectives for therapeutics:
· Generating first-in-human data for the Affimer drug platform as soon as possible,
· Building a pipeline of innovative Affimer drugs with high clinical and commercial value, and
· Securing significant partnerships and licensing deals for Affimer therapeutics.
· Continuing to build the in-vivo pharmacology data packages for our lead immune checkpoint programmes - PDL1 and LAG3 antagonists; aiming to initiate first-in-human clinical studies for the Affimer drug platform in 2020.
· Research collaboration and licensing agreement to access novel drug conjugate technology developed at Tufts University Medical School, Boston US, established to underpin pipeline of innovative "TMAC" Affimer drug conjugates and combination therapies.
· Pre-clinical development of first TMAC drug conjugate has started and initial in-vivo efficacy data from a combination of the lead Affimer PD-L1 candidate with a DDP8/9 inhibitor looks very promising.
· Collaboration with Moderna (MRNA:NASDAQ) finalising pre-clinical R&D; update planned for H1 2019.
Affimer Research and Diagnostics Reagents
· Affimer reagents shown to be better than the leading products in the "anti-idiotypic" reagents market which is estimated to be worth $10-$20m per annum. Good commercial progress made in the last six months with multiple large pharma customers placing orders for Affimer reagents for detection and quantification of antibody products in clinical studies and manufacturing.
· A commercial license with New England Biolabs® (NEB®) (Ipswich MA, USA), a global leader in the discovery and production of enzymes for molecular biology applications, has been agreed allowing NEB to commercialise a product using the Affimer technology for use in both life science research and diagnostics assays. Multiple further licensing deals expected through 2019.
· Building a small proprietary pipeline of Affimer reagents against specific diagnostic targets to create licensable assets with the supporting data packages to accelerate the Company's business development efforts.
Board and Senior Management
· Dr Jose Saro was appointed in November 2018 to the role of Chief Medical Officer to lead the pre-clinical and clinical development of the Affimer® therapeutic platform. He has over 20 years' experience in the pre-clinical, translational and early clinical development of oncology assets, spanning small molecules, biologics and drug conjugates. Dr Saro joined Avacta from Roche where he held the role of Senior Translational Medicine Leader at the Roche Innovation Center Zurich.
· Half year revenue, operating losses and cash balances in line with market forecasts.
The presentation to shareholders at today's AGM will be available on the Company's website (www.avacta.com).
Dr Alastair Smith, Avacta Group Chief Executive Officer, commented:
"It has been a period of very strong progress and I am particularly pleased to have been able to report on a number of major commercial partnerships for Affimer therapeutics and reagents which further validate the technology and business model.
The partnership with LG Chem, a fully integrated pharmaceutical company with world class biologics manufacturing and clinical development capabilities, is a major milestone for the Company. This deal, potentially worth over $300m and with a significant upfront payment, was made possible by the excellent progress in our in-house programmes that have generated the pre-clinical data which are essential to successful business development activities. As we expand those data-sets across our in-house programmes I am very confident that we will see additional significant licensing deals that transform the Company.
The research collaboration with leading scientists at Tufts University Medical School is a major step forward for Avacta. If we are to deliver our vision of extending the benefit of immunotherapies to patients who do not respond to simple immune-checkpoint therapies, then we must build a pipeline of innovative Affimer immuno-therapies and the Tufts collaboration will underpin that effort. The combination of PD-L1 and LAG-3 antagonists, plus other Affimers targeting different immune-checkpoint pathways with the Tufts drug conjugates, has the potential to both stimulate the innate immune response whilst synergising with the adaptive immune response. This is an exciting prospect that has got numerous large pharmaceutical partners interested in the Affimer TMACTM programme.
The licensing deal with New England Biolabs is a perfect example of the type of deals we have in the pipeline of Affimer reagent evaluations and I expect that we will see more of these deals emerge in 2019 with both large and small partners across multiple markets.
I am delighted that Jose Saro has joined the senior management team as Chief Medical Officer. As we move our first programmes into the clinic we are all looking forward to working with Jose to validate the Affimer platform in-human and build an exciting pipeline of valuable therapeutic assets.
I would like to extend my personal thanks, and that of the Board, to Alan Aubrey, who is stepping down from the Board today, for his contribution to the development of Avacta over many years.
I look forward to updating the market on progress during 2019 which I expect to be a year of very significant progress for the Company."
For further information from Avacta Group plc, please contact:
Avacta Group plc
Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer
Tony Gardiner, Chief Financial Officer
Tel: +44 (0) 844 414 0452
Geoff Nash / Giles Rolls - Nominated Adviser
Tim Redfern - ECM
Nigel Birks / Nigel Barnes
David Wilson / Claes Spang
Tel: +44 (0) 207 220 0500
Tel: +44 (0) 203 705 9318
Tel: +44 (0) 203 705 9217
Turner Pope Investments
Zyme Communications (Trade and Regional Media)
Yellow Jersey (Financial Media and IR)
Tel: 020 3621 4120
Tel: +44 (0)7787 502 947
Tel: +44 (0)7764 947137
Tel: +44 (0)7544 275882
About Avacta Group plc (www.avacta.com)
Avacta's principal focus is on its proprietary Affimer® technology which is a novel engineered alternative to antibodies that has wide application in Life Sciences for diagnostics, therapeutics and general research and development.
Antibodies dominate markets worth in excess of $100bn despite their shortcomings. Affimer® technology has been designed to address many of these negative performance issues, principally; the time taken to generate new antibodies, the reliance on an animal's immune response, poor specificity in many cases, and batch to batch variability. Affimer® technology is based on a small protein that can be quickly generated to bind with high specificity and affinity to a wide range of protein targets.
Avacta has a pre-clinical biotech development programme with an in-house focus on immuno-oncology as well as partnered development programmes. Avacta is commercialising non-therapeutic Affimer® reagents through licensing to developers of life sciences research tools and diagnostics.