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8 January, 2020 - 11:26 By Kate Sweeney

Heart and Seoul as Avacta launches Korean JV

Cambridge based BioMedTech business Avacta Group has joined forces with Daewoong Pharmaceutical to establish a significant joint venture in South Korea.

The partners have agreed a collaboration and licence agreement to develop NextGen cell and gene therapies incorporating Affimer proteins to enhance the immune-modulatory effects.

The JV will develop a new class of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) – promising agents for the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The new class of MSCs are primed to produce Affimer proteins, which are designed to enhance the immune-modulatory effect when administered to patients by reducing inflammatory or autoimmune responses.

Daewoong will provide access to its proprietary technology for generating allogeneic MSCs from a single donor to treat a large number of patients. This proprietary technology facilitates developing cell therapies as off-the-shelf products.

Avacta will develop Affimer proteins against several undisclosed targets which will be transferred to the joint venture to be incorporated into MSCs. The resulting engineered MSCs will have broad ranging therapeutic utility, depending  on the Affimer proteins’ intended therapeutic purposes.

Avacta’s research and development costs will be fully covered by the joint venture and the UK company retains the rights to commercialise the Affimer proteins outside of the field of cell therapies. 

Avacta’s shareholding in the joint venture is 45 per cent with Daewoong holding 55 per cent and the enterprise will be operationally managed by Seng-ho Jeon, CEO of Daewoong, with a board composed of representatives of both Avacta (Alastair Smith, CEO and Matthew Vincent, VP Business Development and Strategy) and Daewoong.

Seng-ho Jeon said: “Our partnership reinforces the shared vision of both companies to design the next level of treatment paradigm and to open up a new horizon in immunotherapeutic strategies.

“This innovative collaboration will deliver invaluable synergy and lead to new solutions with the potential to transform patients’ lives.”

Alastair Smith added: “We are very excited to establish the joint venture with Daewoong, a world-class partner, combining our powerful Affimer platform with MSCs to develop breakthrough medicines targeting immune-mediated diseases.

“Affimer proteins have the potential to selectively modulate signalling pathways in inflammatory diseases in order to reduce the aberrant immune response occurring in those tissues, as well as positively impacting tissue regenerative pathways meant to repair and restore normal function to the affected tissues. 

“We look forward to working closely with the Daewoong team to advance these promising therapeutics, and get them to the patients who need them.”

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