Expansion of Partnership with Daewoong Pharmaceutical to Include COVID-19 Neutrali s ing Affimer Therapy
Collaboration to develop stem cell therapies for COVID-19 and future pandemic diseases
Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and reagents is pleased to announce an expansion of its collaboration and license agreement with Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (KSX: 069620) and AffyXell Therapeutics, the joint venture established in South Korea by the two companies, to develop stem cell treatments incorporating Avacta’s neutralising Affimer therapy for the treatment of seriously ill patients with COVID-19 and to also prepare to rapidly develop similar therapies for future global pandemics.
Respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 can cause serious damage to the lungs as a consequence of over-activation of the patient’s immune system, resulting in cytokine release syndrome that can potentially lead to multiple organ failure and death. Stem cell therapies offer a very promising approach to repair the damage to lung tissues in these pulmonary diseases by controlling the immune balance.
AffyXell Therapeutics, the next-generation cell and gene therapy joint venture between Avacta and Daewoong Pharmaceutical, is developing a novel class of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) treatments that are engineered to also produce Affimer therapies in the patient at the site of action .
The expansion of the agreement between Avacta, Daewoong Pharmace u tical and AffyXell announced today extends the scope of the partnership to include Affimer molecules that target viruses, such as coronaviruses, in order to develop therapies that repair the lung damage caused by COVID-19 whilst also producing neutralising Affimer molecules to prevent the progression of the disease.
AffyXell will engineer mesenchymal stem cells to express SARS-COV-2 neutrali s ing Affimer molecules in order to develop treatments for seriously ill COVID-19 patients, and will also prepare for rapid development of next-generation stem cell therapies for future infectious respiratory disease outbreaks.
Dr. Alastair Smith, Chief Executive of Avacta Group commented:
“I am very pleased to have extended our collaboration and license agreement with Daewoong Pharmaceutical to include the SARS-COV-2 neutralising Affimer molecules for the treatment of COVID-19 and to create the potential to respond very rapidly in future to global virus threats.
AffyXell will address the need over the coming years for advanced stem cell therapies to treat lung damage caused by cytokine release syndrome suffered by COVID-19 patients and, at the same time, help prevent disease progression in these patients through the action of a neutralising Affimer therapy.
More broadly, one of the key areas of unmet clinical need that AffyXell can address with its next-generation mesenchymal stem cell therapies is acute pulmonary diseases such as COPD and acute respiratory distress syndrome. We, and our partners in South Korea, are very excited by the potential to develop life improving treatments for patients with these serious respiratory diseases as well as COVID-19.
I look forward to further updating the market on progress in our ground-breaking programmes with AffyXell in due course, and on progress with our COVID-19 diagnostics programmes shortly.”
Seng-ho Jeon, CEO of Daewoong Pharmaceutical and AffyXell Therapeutics, commented:
“It is very encouraging that AffyXell now has the opportunity to expand the application of its next-generation stem cell platform technology to target viruses. The SARS-COV-2 neutrali s ing Affimer to be developed in combination with AffyXell’s cell and gene technology is expected to be an innovative solution for COVID-19 patients suffering cytokine release syndrome.
Daewoong has been also conducting several research programs and clinical trial for COVID-19. As the COVID-19 crisis has caused great difficulties worldwide, we will continue to focus our efforts to develop a novel therapeutic agent for COVID-19.”
This announcement contains information which, prior to its disclosure, was considered inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 596/2014 (MAR).
About Avacta Group plc – https://www.avacta.com
Avacta is developing novel cancer immunotherapies combining its two proprietary platforms – Affimer® biotherapeutics and pre|CISION™ tumour targeted chemotherapy. With this approach, the Company aims to address the lack of a durable response to current immunotherapies experienced by most patients. The Company’s therapeutics development activities are based in Cambridge, UK.
The Company benefits from near-term revenues generated from Affimer reagents for diagnostics, bioprocessing and research, through a separate business unit based in Wetherby, UK.
The Affimer platform is an alternative to antibodies derived from a small human protein. Despite their shortcomings, antibodies currently dominate markets worth in excess of $100bn. Affimer technology has been designed to address many of these negative performance issues, principally: the time taken, and the reliance on an animal’s immune response, to generate new antibodies; poor specificity in many cases; large size and cost.
Avacta’s pre|CISION targeted chemotherapy platform, releases active chemotherapy only in the tumour, thereby limiting systemic exposure and damage to healthy tissues, and thereby improving the overall safety and therapeutic potential of these powerful anti-cancer treatments.
By combining these two platforms the Company is building a wholly owned pipeline of novel cancer therapies with the aim of creating effective treatments for all cancer patients including those who do not respond to existing immunotherapies. Avacta expects to take its first drug, a pre|CISION targeted form of the standard-of-care Doxorubicin, into the clinic later in 2020 or early 2021.
Avacta has established drug development partnerships with pharma and biotech, including with Moderna Therapeutics Inc., a deal with LG Chem worth up to $310m, a partnership with ADC Therapeutics to develop Affimer drug conjugates and has established a joint venture in South Korea with Daewoong Pharmaceutical focused on cell and gene therapies incorporating Affimer immune-modulators. Avacta actively seeks to license its proprietary platforms in a range of therapeutic areas.
Avacta diagnostics business unit works with partners world-wide to develop Affimers for evaluation by those third parties with the objective of establishing royalty bearing license deals. The Company is also developing a small in-house pipeline of Affimer-based diagnostic assays for licensing.
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About Daewoong Pharmaceutical – http://www.daewoong.com
Established in 1945, Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. is a leading South Korean pharmaceutical company that develops, manufactures, and commercializes pharmaceuticals for both domestic and international markets. With its strong and competent in-house R&D and qualified manufacturing facilities (cGMP), Daewoong provides a total healthcare solution to customers across the globe. Aiming to become a global healthcare company, Daewoong has broadened international operations by establishing branch offices and research centers throughout Asia and the United States. Also Daewoong has expanded strategic partnerships in more than 100 countries worldwide.
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