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7 January, 2021 - 17:46 By Tony Quested

Avacta wins millions from deal targeting $15bn market

Cambridge cancer technology pathfinder, Avacta, has clinched a deal worth several millions with Canadian business POINT Biopharma Inc to exploit the radiopharmaceuticals market – tipped to be worth $15 billion by 2025.

POINT Biopharma is licensing Avacta’s pre|CISION FAP-sensitive activation platform for radiopharmaceuticals – radioisotopes bound to biological molecules able to target specific organs, tissues or cells within the human body. These radioactive drugs can be used for the diagnosis and, increasingly, for the therapy of diseases.

Avacta will receive an upfront fee and development milestones for the first radiopharmaceutical prodrug totalling $9.5m. It will also receive milestone payments for subsequent radiopharmaceutical prodrugs of up to $8 million each, a royalty on sales of FAP-activated radiopharmaceuticals by POINT and a percentage of any sublicensing income received by POINT.

It represents a fantastic piece of business and a great example of crystal gazing:  while the market is expected to grow to $15bn in the next four years there is also a substantial opportunity to expand much faster if safety and tolerability of these effective treatments can be improved. 

POINT Biopharma is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on developing radioligands as precision medicines for the treatment of cancer.

Avacta’s proprietary pre|CISION chemistry can be used to modify a radioligand drug to form a tumour-activated prodrug. The prodrug form is inactive in circulation until it enters the tumour micro-environment where it is activated by an enzyme called fibroblast activation protein (or FAP) that is present in high abundance in most solid tumours but not in healthy tissue. 

The technology therefore has the potential to improve the tolerability and achieve better clinical outcomes for patients compared with standard radiopharmaceuticals by targeting the radioligand treatment more specifically to cancer cells.

Avacta CEO Alastair Smith, said: “This partnership with POINT allows Avacta to exploit its pre|CISION platform in a therapeutic area outside of our in-house focus on chemotherapy prodrugs.

“The clinical and commercial rationale for our platform is to improve the safety and efficacy of many existing drugs, as well as generating a pipeline of new and novel cancer therapies. 

“In oncology, we believe that this approach will result in better response rates for monotherapies, and a greater safety margin, to enable their use with a larger patient population and as part of combination therapies. 

“The potential of the pre|CISION platform to significantly improve outcomes for patients treated with existing cancer therapies through improved safety, tolerability and dosing regimens is enormous. 

“In addition, Avacta is combining the pre|CISION technology with the Affimer platform to create an entirely new class of proprietary TMAC drug conjugates.”

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