Talks could trigger COVID test rollout
Cambridge biotech Avacta Group is in discussions with commercial partners to establish a route to market for a CE marked BAMS COVID-19 test that can be deployed in hospitals in the UK and Europe.
It is one of several initiatives designed to combat the coronavirus that Avacta is making progress with. The company develops innovative cancer therapies and diagnostics based on its proprietary Affimer® and pre|CISION™ platforms.
At the start of this week it announced significant progress in the development of a highly scalable manufacturing process for a lateral flow SARS-CoV-2 antigen test being carried out with BBI Solutions. It reported that the lateral flow test has very good analytical sensitivity with laboratory samples.
Avacta is developing several coronavirus tests using Affimer binders that are highly specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein.
In preparation for clinical validation of the lateral flow test Avacta is working on both saliva and anterior nasal swab samples. Avacta and its partners will continue to develop both sampling methods in parallel to bring high performance COVID-19 tests to market quickly to suit a range of use cases.
CEO Alastair Smith said: “In addition to the excellent progress made with the lateral flow antigen test we are also currently carrying out a clinical evaluation of the BAMS™ assay at several sites in the UK.
“We are in discussions with commercial partners to establish the route to market for a CE marked BAMS COVID-19 test that can be deployed in hospitals in the UK and Europe and we continue to make good progress towards establishing a commercial partner for the research ELISA.
“The diagnostic business unit has also made good progress on a number of other non-COVID-19 commercial opportunities and on putting in place an ISO13485 accredited quality system to support the future growth.
“Furthermore, we remain on track to submit the UK regulatory application, or CTA, for AVA6000 pro-doxorubicin before the end of the year to allow first-in-human trials of the pre|CISION™ chemotherapy platform at several clinical trial sites in the UK early in 2021.”
Avacta has also provided an update on its development partnership and licence agreement with LG Chem Life Sciences, part of the South Korean LG Group, to develop Affimer therapeutics in several disease areas. Progress in the alliance looks set to trigger substantial milestone payments for the quoted Cambridge business.
Avacta has generated a large number of Affimer proteins that bind to the first drug target nominated by LG Chem. These candidate Affimer molecules are now being optimised by Avacta for LG Chem to then carry out pre-clinical development, successful completion of which would trigger the next substantial milestone payment to Avacta.
LG Chem has now expanded the collaboration by nominating the second and third drug targets and Avacta is beginning the discovery programmes for Affimer binders to those new targets. Each of these programmes also has the potential for further milestone payments.