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. Moderna was the first to enter into an agreement with Avacta to use the Affimer technology, in tandem with Moderna’s mRNA drug delivery platform. Moderna has just disclosed Phase I trial data for its mRNA technology which is the first public evidence that it works, which meaningfully de-risks the partnership plans to deliver Affimer therapeutics using mRNA

  • Strategy: To commercialise Affimer technology through out-licensing deals for research and diagnostic reagents, and to identify and develop its own proprietary therapeutic Affimer leads. The company has sufficient cash to take an Affimer lead through to IND submission (end 2018) and 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 recently shown to have very low immunogenicity, hitting an important drug development milestone.
  • Moderna deal: In 2015, Avacta entered into an agreement with Moderna with an upfront payment of $0.5m and undisclosed pre-clinical developments milestones. Under the terms, Moderna has an exclusive access to the Affimer technology against certain targets to use for its mRNA platform.
  • Phase I data: Moderna has just released data from 31 patients in a placebocontrolled Phase I trial against influenza using an mRNA vaccine. These figures represent the first efficacy and safety data for their mRNA platform and the first evidence that Moderna’s drug delivery technology works.
  • 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, and aims to select a lead candidate and file an Investigational New Drug (IND) in late 2018. The more advanced stage of the Moderna partnership provides strong validation the Affimers represent an interesting de novo technology platform.