logo-loader
HealthPharma & Biotech
viewAvacta Group PLC

Avacta says partner Moderna takes collaboration to next level

The US-listed group has triggered an exclusivity option. Chief executive Dr Alastair Smith said: "This is further strong validation of the potential of the Affimer drug platform to generate differentiated therapeutic molecules for development"

affimer technology
Avacta’s proteins have several innovative and distinctive features, which could potentially make them a better tool than antibodies for therapeutic applications

Avacta Group PLC (LON:AVCT) shares jumped higher on Monday after the group said it is set to ink an exclusive licensing agreement with US-listed Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA).

The deal relates to the Affimer programme the two have been working on. No financial terms were disclosed, but Avacta said it may receive payments at certain development milestones and royalties on product sales if a drug goes to market.

WATCH: Avacta's Alastair Smith encouraged by significant progress and share price momentum

Moderna wants to take forward “certain Affimers against a potential therapeutic target” that has been part of the pair’s research collaboration, which dates back to 2015. It has triggered an exclusivity option to do so.

Affimers are small, engineered proteins, some of which are of human origin and some plant-derived. They are capable of binding specific molecular targets, in a similar way to antibodies.

Avacta’s proteins have several innovative and distinctive features, which could potentially make them a better tool than antibodies for therapeutic applications.

They are smaller, quicker to manufacture and easier to format than antibodies, but they maintain antibody-like biologic activity when binding a target.

Dr Alastair Smith, chief executive of the UK group, said he was “delighted” the Moderna collaboration was moving towards exclusivity. He added: "This is further strong validation of the potential of the Affimer drug platform to generate differentiated therapeutic molecules for development.”

Hugely positive outcome

In a note to clients, analysts at ‘house’ broker finnCap commented: “This is a hugely positive outcome for Avacta. It not only demonstrates Avacta’s ability to generate a series of effective Affimers to a chosen target, which are likely to have undergone extensive preclinical testing by Moderna, but it also provides further external pharma validation and endorsement of the technology.

“Given Moderna’s mRNA-based approach, we could see human safety data from Moderna before Avacta itself enters the clinic with its own Affirmer in 2020, which would further enhance the value of the Affimer therapeutic platform.”

The finnCap analysts increased their target price for Avacta to 125p “to reflect the incremental value of this deal”.

In late afternoon trading, Avacta shares were 8.2% higher at 46.00p 

 -- Adds analyst comment, share price --

Quick facts: Avacta Group PLC

Price: 17 GBX

AIM:AVCT
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £19.75 m
Follow

Add related topics to MyProactive

Create your account: sign up and get ahead on news and events

NO INVESTMENT ADVICE

The Company is a publisher. You understand and agree that no content published on the Site constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is...

In exchange for publishing services rendered by the Company on behalf of Avacta Group PLC named herein, including the promotion by the Company of Avacta Group PLC in any Content on the Site, the Company receives from...

FOR OUR FULL DISCLAIMER CLICK HERE

Watch

Avacta Plc's therapeutics business 'has huge amount of potential' - analyst...

Capital Network analyst Ed Stacey discusses the major value driver for Avacta - the development of its proprietary Affimer technology for therapeutics, particularly in the immune-oncology (I-O) space. The group's reported interim results to January 2019 today, revealing revenues of...

on 9/4/19

2 min read