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Avacta confirms candidate for first human trials of Affimer platform

Avacta has named the clinical candidate for the first human trials of its Affimer platform.

Dr Alastair Smith, Avacta Group chief executive. (12155378)
Dr Alastair Smith, Avacta Group chief executive. (12155378)

It has selected a molecule, known as AVA004, which has been shown in animal models to inhibit tumour growth as effectively as three approved monoclonal antibodies.

It represents a major milestone for the Whittlesford-based company as it seeks to plug into the immunotherapy market, which is currently worth $60billion.

The company is targeting PD-L1, a well-known cancer immunotherapy target, to demonstrate the safety and tolerability of the Affimer platform.

Its Affimers are a class of binding proteins that are around 10 times smaller than antibodies, enabling better tissue penetration and increased packing density.

Produced in vitro, they can be developed rapidly, with flexibility and used against targets that would be difficult for antibody technology, or limited by the immune system.

Dr Alastair Smith, CEO of Avacta Group, said: “Selection of the Affimer PD-L1 inhibitor candidate for clinical development is an important milestone in our development of the Affimer therapeutic platform. The group remains firmly on track to submit an application to the regulators for a first-time-in-human clinical study late in 2020.

“Demonstration of appropriate safety and tolerability in humans is key to derisking the platform overall for partners and therefore key to the number and value of licensing deals in the future.”

Last week, Avacta announced that its novel TMAC (tumour microenvironment activated drug conjugates) linker will be tested on humans within a year.

The PD-L1 programme will be used as the proprietary inhibitor of the PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint pathway which will be central to Avacta’s TMAC drug conjugates and bispecifics.

“These novel programmes will allow us to build a clinically differentiated pipeline to address the lack of a durable response to single immune checkpoint therapies for most patients,” said Dr Smith.

“It is a hugely exciting period for Avacta and I look forward to keeping the market updated on our progress.”

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