As we approach the Small Cap Awards, due to take place on 25th June, Master Investor profiles some of the companies shortlisted. Avacta has been shortlisted for the Technology Company of the Year award.
- Please provide a brief description of the business
Avacta is developing novel cancer immunotherapies combined its two proprietary platforms – Affimer® biotherapeutics and pre|CISIONTM tumour targeted chemotherapy. With this approach, the Company aims to address the lack of a durable response to current immunotherapies experienced by most patients. In addition, Avacta’s diagnostics business works with partners world-wide 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.
- 2019/20 was clearly a strong year for the company, to what do you attribute your success?
The Company made great strides in its therapeutic development programmes and in global partnering during 2019/20, starting drug development collaborations with LG and ADC Therapeutics and establishing a joint venture in South Korea with Daewoong Pharmaceuticals. We have also made excellent progress in our in-house therapeutic programmes and in particular in moving the first preCISION chemotherapy towards first-in-human studies and establishing proof-of-concept for our novel TMAC drug conjugates as part of our partnership with Tufts University School of Medicine. Most recently we have been able to contribute towards the global fight against the coronavirus by generating a wide range of Affimer reagents that detect the COVID-19 antigen and we have established a partnership with Cytiva (formerly GE Healthcare) to develop a saliva-based, rapid point-of-care diagnostic test that is intended to provide a result in minutes to indicate whether you have the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Some of the Affimer reagents that we have generated also display a potential to block the infection pathway of the virus creating the possibility of an Affimer based treatment. All of these advancements have led to a huge amount of interest in Avacta and a dramatic re-valuation of the business during the past few months which has given us the opportunity to recapitalise the business and will allow us to unlock the substantial shareholder value that we have created over the past few years.
- How would you characterise the long-term drivers for your business?
The Group has been established on two platform technologies which we are using to create pipelines of novel cancer therapies and powerful diagnostic assets both in-house and with partners. It is these pipelines that provide a strong base for long term and sustainable growth in shareholder value. In the short term, the development and manufacture of COVID-19 antigen tests could provide a transformational revenue stream given the potential demand.