POW­ER­ING AHEAD

Biotech­nol­ogy pioneers Avacta re­port ex­cep­tional year of progress.

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - ROS SNOW­DON CITY EDI­TOR Email: ros.snow­don@ypn.co.uk Twitter: @RosSnow­don

DI­AG­NOS­TICS SPE­CIAL­IST Avacta said it has seen “an ex­cep­tion­ally strong” pe­riod over the past 12 months and it is ex­cited about the po­ten­tial for its Af­fimer tech­nol­ogy – Avacta’s al­ter­na­tive to an­ti­bod­ies.

In or­der to meet fu­ture de­mand, the Wetherby-based group has built two new fa­cil­i­ties in Wetherby and Cam­bridge, adding 20,000 sq ft.

Avacta‘s CEO Dr Alas­tair Smith said; “We moved into the Wetherby fa­cil­ity in Au­gust last year. It’s been a fab­u­lous move. We’ve fit­ted it out with of­fices and lab­o­ra­to­ries. It’s a great site and it makes the right com­mer­cial im­pres­sion.

“The past 12 months have been an ex­cep­tion­ally strong pe­riod of per­for­mance and we have never been more ex­cited about the po­ten­tial for the Af­fimer tech­nol­ogy.

“The com­mer­cial trac­tion for Af­fimer reagents has con­tin­ued to build which is re­flected in the strong growth in the num­ber of tech­nol­ogy eval­u­a­tions and li­cense deals that have been agreed.”

The firm said rev­enues rose 26 per cent to £2.74m in the year to July 31. The group’s loss from con­tin­u­ing op­er­a­tions rose from £4.65m to £6.37m. It said cash bal­ances at £13.17m were well ahead of mar­ket ex­pec­ta­tions.

Dr Smith said the first li­cense deal with a global di­ag­nos­tics com­pany rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone and the group is con­fi­dent of de­liv­er­ing more li­cense deals which are key to build­ing a prof­itable Af­fimer reagents busi­ness.

“We have a pipe­line of sim­i­lar

eval­u­a­tions on­go­ing that should de­liver more li­cens­ing deals in 2018. We ex­pect a small hand­ful to be­gin with,” he said.

“Ma­jor mile­stones that have been de­liv­ered in the past year in­clude the pos­i­tive out­come of the first an­i­mal ef­fi­cacy data and ex­cel­lent re­sults from a ma­jor im­muno­genic­ity trial on hu­man sam­ples.”

He said the group is see­ing grow­ing in­ter­est from po­ten­tial part­ners and it is pro­vid­ing them with data and tech­nol­ogy eval­u­a­tions that will even­tu­ally lead to li­cens­ing deals.

“An­ti­bod­ies have be­come the dom­i­nant tech­nol­ogy in mar­kets worth in ex­cess of $100bn (£75bn) an­nu­ally and this is de­spite some sig­nif­i­cant lim­i­ta­tions,” he said.

“The op­por­tu­nity for a com­pet­i­tive al­ter­na­tive such as the Af­fimer tech­nol­ogy, is very large. We be­lieve that 2018 could be a very sig­nif­i­cant year for the group and I look for­ward to fur­ther up­dat­ing the mar­ket on fu­ture progress.”

Dr Smith said that Af­fimers are fac­ing the same is­sues that any new tech­nol­ogy faces.

“We are build­ing aware­ness in the mar­ket. It’s ab­so­lutely the same with any new plat­form you’re try­ing to launch. Af­fimers def­i­nitely work. It’s about build­ing data,” he said.

An­a­lyst Mark Brewer at Fin­nCap said: “Avacta re­ported 2017 re­sults slightly ahead of ex­pec­ta­tions, end­ing the year with £13.2m cash.

“Whilst the mar­ket con­tin­ues to look for fur­ther ex­ter­nal val­i­da­tion, Avacta con­tin­ues to build in­cre­men­tal value as it re­mains on track to take its first as­set into the clinic in 2019.

“Full-year re­sults demon­strated good fi­nan­cial stew­ard­ship and strong progress, re­flected in the up­lift in the or­der book for cus­tom Af­fimer eval­u­a­tions and the first non-ther­a­peu­tics li­cens­ing deal with a global top-3 di­ag­nos­tics com­pany. This un­der­scores the in­ter­est amongst large pharma/biotech as well as the di­ag­nos­tics mar­ket.”

Avacta de­scribes Af­fimer tech­nol­ogy as an en­gi­neered al­ter­na­tive to an­ti­bod­ies that has wide ap­pli­ca­tion in life sciences for di­ag­nos­tics, ther­a­peu­tics and gen­eral re­search and de­vel­op­ment.

We have never been more ex­cited about the po­ten­tial Avacta‘s CEO Dr Alas­tair Smith an­tic­i­pates ma­jor global li­cens­ing deals

PIC­TURE: SI­MON HULME

TECH HOPES:

Alas­tair Smith the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive at Avacta Group PLC, at its new premises on the Thorp Arch Trad­ing Cen­tre near Wetherby. He praised the fa­cil­i­ties as a fab­u­lous move.

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