License to utilise Avacta’s pre|CISIONTM FAP sensitive activation platform for radiopharmaceuticals
Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of innovative cancer therapies and diagnostics based on its proprietary Affimer® and pre|CISIONTM platforms, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a license agreement with POINT Biopharma Inc. (“POINT”), to provide access to Avacta’s pre|CISION™ technology for the development of tumour-activated radiopharmaceuticals.
The radiopharmaceutical market is expected to grow to $15 billion by 20251 and there is a substantial opportunity to grow much faster if safety and tolerability of these effective treatments can be improved. POINT Biopharma is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on developing radioligands2 as precision medicines for the treatment of cancer.
Avacta’s proprietary pre|CISIONTM chemistry can be used to modify a radioligand drug to form a tumour-activated prodrug. The prodrug form is inactive in circulation until it enters the tumour micro-environment where it is activated by an enzyme called fibroblast activation protein (or FAP) that is present in high abundance in most solid tumours but not in healthy tissue. Avacta’s pre|CISION ™ technology therefore has the potential to improve the tolerability and achieve better clinical outcomes for patients compared with standard radiopharmaceuticals by targeting the radioligand treatment more specifically to cancer cells.
The agreement provides POINT with an exclusive license to the pre|CISION technology for use in the first radiopharmaceutical prodrug the company intends to develop, and a non-exclusive license to the pre|CISION™ platform for the development of a broader pipeline of FAP-activated radiopharmaceuticals.
Under the terms of the agreement, Avacta will receive an upfront fee and development milestones for the first radiopharmaceutical prodrug totalling $9.5 million. Avacta will also receive milestone payments for subsequent radiopharmaceutical prodrugs of up to $8 million each, a royalty on sales of FAP-activated radiopharmaceuticals by POINT and a percentage of any sublicensing income received by POINT.
Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Avacta Group, commented:
“I am very pleased to have established this partnership with POINT that allows Avacta to exploit its pre|CISION platform in a therapeutic area outside of our in-house focus on chemotherapy prodrugs.
The clinical and commercial rationale for our pre|CISION prodrug platform is to improve the safety and efficacy of many existing drugs, as well as generating a pipeline of new and novel cancer therapies. In oncology, we believe that this approach will result in better response rates for monotherapies, and a greater safety margin, to enable their use with a larger patient population and as part of combination therapies.
The in-house development of AVA6000 Pro-doxorubicin, the first of our pre|CISION chemotherapy prodrugs for which we have recently submitted a CTA filing in the UK to begin clinical trials in 2021, has already generated significant interest and this is highlighted by the agreement with POINT announced today.
The potential of the pre|CISION platform to significantly improve outcomes for patients treated with existing cancer therapies through improved safety, tolerability and dosing regimens is enormous. In addition, Avacta is combining the pre|CISION technology with the Affimer platform to create an entirely new class of proprietary TMAC drug conjugates.
I look forward to updating the market on further progress on these and the diagnostic programmes across the Group in the near term.”
2 For more information about radioligands visit https://www.radioligands.org
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 – 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 $100 billion. 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 in 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 $400 million, 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’s diagnostics business unit works with partners world-wide to develop Affimer reagents 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.