Avacta is the proprietary owner of Affimer technology for the development of biotherapeutics, diagnostic tests and research reagents. Affimers represent a radical alternative to established antibody technology which dominates the drug industry despite its limitations. Avacta is continuing progress towards its strategic goal of having a first-in-man trials of Affimer therapeutics by the end of 2019. In two years, management has hit several key milestones, moving Affimers from being an ‘interesting concept’ to one of ‘real opportunity’ and de-risking the technology as the next platform of biopharmaceutical drugs.

  • Strategy: To commercialise its Affimer technology through licensing of Affimer research and diagnostic reagents, and by identifying and developing its own proprietary therapeutic Affimer leads which it will also ultimately license. The company has sufficient cash resource to take its first Affimer lead through to IND submission (end 2018) and into Phase I trials (2019).
  • Affimers: They are small and stable engineered proteins that may represent a realistic alternative to antibodies in diagnostics, reagents and as therapeutics. Affimer constructs based on a human protein, were shown to have very low immunogenicity, hitting an important drug development milestone.
  • Commercial opportunity: Antibody technology is the accepted ‘gold standard’ in terms of research, diagnostic and therapeutic tools and has combined commercial markets in excess of $90bn per annum. Affimers may represent an additional option in the arsenal, especially where antibodies have limitations.
  • 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 years which have considerably altered the risk profile.
  • Investment summary: Avacta has made considerable progress towards its goal of having its own proprietary Affimer-based drugs. In just 18 months, it has completed a number of in vitro and in vivo pre-clinical tests. The next step will be to select its immuno-oncology lead candidate and file an Investigational New Drug (IND) in late 2018, as a prelude to beginning clinical testing in 2019. The market is now waking up to this interesting de novo technology platform.