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3 October, 2018 - 12:26 By Tony Quested

Avacta lines up licensing deals on back of rise in partnerships

Cambridge Life Science company Avacta Group plc says it is on the cusp of securing a number of licensing deals on the back of escalating partnerships with global players.

Avacta has developed Affimer technology, an engineered alternative to antibodies. Based on a small protein, Affimer technology can be quickly developed to bind with high specificity and affinity to a wide range of targets.

Affimer proteins can be developed as therapeutic molecules and can be used in a wide range of other life sciences applications in research and diagnostics.

Its preliminary results for the year ending July 31 show a higher loss from continuing operations and significant cash burn as a result of accelerating investment on Research & Development. 

Group revenues pretty much flatlined at £2.76m (£2.74m last time) and the loss was up to £8.83m from £6.37m the previous year. Cash balances dwindled to £5.2m from £13.2m the previous July, reflecting the importance of the £11.6m fundraising that month.

Avacta is in talks with multiple potential pharma and biotech partners regarding Affimer therapeutics opportunities. The pipeline of opportunities continues to grow across multiple applications, says CEO Dr Alastair Smith. He said: We are very confident that the group will deliver at least one substantial pharmaceutical licensing deal whilst the technology is still at a pre-clinical stage, during which we remain focused on getting first-in-man clinical data in 2020.

“The substantial number of technology evaluations of Affimer reagents that we have established is now showing signs of bearing fruit.  We expect to be able to report on reagents licensing deals in a number of application areas in the coming financial year that will validate the licensing business model which we are pursuing, and in turn, will underpin future royalty revenue streams.

“Recognising that these significant license deals take time to win via technology evaluations, we have shifted business development focus slightly towards nearer term revenue generation through custom Affimer services, and we are building a small in-house pipeline of diagnostic Affimer assays for licensing as set out at the recent placing.”

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