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11 April, 2022 - 22:40 By Tony Quested

Avacta JV works with Koreans and Chinese on drug development

Cambridge cancer drug company Avacta says its AffyXell Therapeutics JV with Korea’s Daewoong Pharmaceutical has agreed a key collaboration in Asia.

The partners are working with Biocytogen, a Chinese company specialising in developing new biological drugs, and the Korea Non-Clinical Technology Solution Center.

The tie-up is aimed at developing new immune disease in vivo models and carrying out proof-of-concept and toxicity testing of AffyXell’s drug candidates using the developed disease models. 

AffyXell says these new models will benefit from Biocytogen’s platform for gene editing, which creates mouse models capable of producing human antibodies. 

The collaboration is designed to improve the translation of AffyXell’s programmes into human trials and accelerate drug development. The KNTSC’s role in the collaboration is to provide the infrastructure and overall management for pre-clinical trials.

AffyXell was established in January 2020 by Avacta and Daewoong to develop novel mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapies. AffyXell is combining Avacta’s Affimer® platform with Daewoong’s MSC platform so 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.

Avacta chief executive Dr Alastair Smith said: “The quality of pre-clinical disease models and their ability to translate into humans is critical for reducing risk and timelines associated with drug development. This collaboration has the potential to significantly accelerate AffyXell’s programmes.”

Sengho Jeon, CEO of Daewoong Pharmaceutical and AffyXell, added: “Through this contract, the capabilities of the three companies can exert a synergistic effect, providing a foundation for speeding up the development of new drugs.

“In the future, we will further accelerate the development of cell gene therapy to overcome immune diseases and contribute to improving the quality of life of patients with incurable diseases.”

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