Avacta JV raises $7.3m for cell and gene therapy push
A Cambridge UK-Korea joint venture promising great things in nextgen cell and gene therapy technology has been rewarded with major cash backing in a Series A round.
Avacta’s JV with Daewoong Pharmaceutical – AffyXell Therapeutics – has secured $7.3 million to further develop its pipeline of next generation cell and gene therapies.
AffyXell was established in January 2020 to develop novel mesenchymal stem cell therapies. The business is combining Avacta’s Affimer platform with Daewoong’s MSC platform such that the stem cells are genetically modified to produce and secrete therapeutic Affimer proteins in situ in the patient.
The Affimer proteins are designed to enhance the therapeutic effects of the MSC creating a novel, next generation cell therapy platform.
The Series A funding has been raised from a group of venture funds including Samsung Venture Investment Corporation, Shinhan Venture Investment, Smilegate Investment, Shinhan Investment Corporation, Kolon Investment, Stonebridge Ventures and Gyeongnam Venture Investment.
The proceeds will be used by AffyXell to further the development of MSCs engineered to produce Affimer molecules generated by Avacta that suppress immune response and restore immune balance.
While initially focusing on inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and prevention of organ transplant rejection, longer term goals could also include applications in regenerative medicine, infectious diseases and oncology.
Avacta's R & D costs associated with the generation of the Affimer proteins are funded by AffyXell whilst Avacta retains the rights to commercialise the Affimer proteins outside the field of cell therapies.
Avacta CEO Dr Alastair Smith said: “The potential for AffyXell’s new class of MSC therapies to deliver improved treatments for a wide range of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases is significant, in a market estimated to be worth $16 billionn by 2025.
“We expect these novel engineered MSCs to show a more powerful therapeutic effect than existing antibodies and stem cells and they therefore have the potential to lead the rapidly growing field of cell and gene therapy.
“AffyXell is uniquely positioned to develop novel and powerful cell therapies through the combination of two world-class technologies: Avacta’s Affimer platform and Daewoong’s proprietary technology for generating off-the-shelf allogeneic MSC therapies.
“Completion of the Series A funding is a strong validation of this concept and moves us closer to providing these new therapies to the patients who need them.”