Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and research reagents, announces its unaudited interim results for the period ended 31 January 2018.
- Strong progress with in-house programmes:
- Lead PD-L1 programme: on-track to deliver several key pre-clinical milestones in 2018.
- Excellent progress with second immuno-oncology programme, a LAG3 blockade, which can be combined with PD-L1 for improved efficacy.
- Discovery programme continues to deliver a pipeline of Affimer binders to other important immuno-oncology targets for future partnering or development.
- Very positive pharmacokinetic data obtained in mouse for Affimer XT™ half-life extension platform.
- Continued platform validation and de-risking through completion of a number of in-vitro data packages.
- Solid progress with partners:
- Positive outcome of initial trial with Glythera Ltd. leading to a new drug development partnership for Affimer drug conjugates.
- Research collaboration with FIT Biotech Oy established to demonstrate effectiveness of the combined technologies for gene delivered Affimer therapeutics: data expected shortly.
- Moderna research collaboration has a natural three-year termination date at the end of May 2018 and the Group anticipates delivering Affimer assets to Moderna for development by that date or under an extension to the agreement.
- Continuing collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center CAR-T on proof-of-concept study: the Group continues to work to generate Affimer binders to the target of interest.
- Collaboration established with OncoSec (NASDAQ: ONCS) on innovative gene delivery of therapeutic Affimers: third partnership to explore gene delivery with Affimers reflects significant interest received for this application.
- Experienced, Boston-based Vice President Therapeutics Business Development appointed.
- In discussion with multiple pharma and biotech regarding Affimer therapeutics opportunities. Pipeline of opportunities continues to grow across multiple applications.
Affimer Research and Diagnostics Reagents
- Focus on licensing opportunities for reagents in pharma, biotech, diagnostic and research markets: progress has been made with multiple third-party technology evaluations and we are expecting further licensing deals in 2018.
- Business development team established in US with personnel on both the east (Philadelphia) and west coasts (San Diego).
- Very strong growth in public validations of Affimer technology by third parties:
- Record period for publication of third party peer reviewed scientific papers using Affimers including articles in high quality journals such as Nature, Molecular Cell and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.
- Covance presented Affimer data at an international conference and webinar that has helped to generate a number of custom Affimer reagent projects with large pharma.
- Heptares provided a testimonial for use in business development meetings regarding their experience of using Affimers with GPCRs, an important class of drug target.
- Substantial progress in generating more applications data packs (affinity separation, immunoassays) and in developing new applications, such as immunohistochemistry, that are important in supporting marketing efforts.
- Half year revenues increased 16% to £1.5m (£1.3m FY17) comprising of £0.7m (£0.5m FY17) from Avacta Life Sciences and £0.8m (£0.8m FY17) from Avacta Animal Health.
- Operating loss £4.5m (£3.9m FY17), with research and development costs increasing to £1.5m (£1.3m FY17).
- Reported loss £3.9m (£3.4m FY17).
- Cash balances £8.3m (£13.2m 31 July 2017).
- Rapid progress made in second therapeutic programme, a LAG-3 inhibitor, such that the Group is confident to leap-frog the planned clinical trials for a PD-L1 inhibitor on its own and, on a similar timescale, aim for first-time-in-human clinical data for a PD-L1/LAG-3 combined therapy – a potentially much more valuable asset.
Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer, commented: “The Group has delivered strongly against the objectives set out in 2015 when it raised funds to initiate an Affimer drug development programme and to begin commercialisation of Affimer reagents.
We remain focused on the key objective of generating clinical data for our lead Affimer therapeutic programme. This first-time-in-human data is a significant value inflection point for the technology and a major de-risking point from a partnering perspective. Whilst we progress towards the clinic in 2020, the Group will continue to build-out a potentially transformative pipeline of assets in immuno-oncology. Avacta is confident that partnerships can be established for assets in this pipeline before the technology is in the clinic, but we also believe that the value of these deals will rise markedly when the first Affimer human clinical data is obtained.
We will continue to grow the Affimer reagents revenue during this time period, with a focus on long term recurring royalty revenue rather than short term services income, with the objective of creating a potentially stand-alone business unit.
As a proven platform technology addressing multiple markets, the downside risk is low, with significant upside potential as we build a pipeline of valuable drug assets. Sanofi’s recent acquisition of a clinical stage comparator to Avacta (Ablynx) for $5bn highlights the potential valuation of a clinical stage platform technology like Affimers with a pipeline of assets in development.”