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Avacta Initiates Gene Therapy Research Collaboration with FIT Biotech Oy

05 October 2017

Wetherby and Cambridge, UK, 05 October 2017: Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and reagents, is pleased to announce it has initiated a research collaboration with FIT Biotech Oy (FITBIO:FN Finland) to assess the effectiveness of developing gene therapies using Avacta’s Affimer technology combined with FIT Biotech’s gtGTU® platform.

Therapeutic proteins can be delivered to a patient by directly injecting the protein drug or by delivering the DNA blueprint that encodes the protein (the “gene”) into the patient’s cells. The patient’s own cells then make the protein drug. The ideal protein drug must be produced easily by the patient’s cells in order that a clinically relevant dose is achieved. 

Affimer proteins are small, very simple in structure and are easily produced and are therefore potentially ideal for gene delivery. The research collaboration with FIT Biotech is Avacta’s second in the area of gene therapy, with the same benefits of Affimer technology underpinning the Company’s existing research collaboration with Moderna Therapeutics Inc.

FIT Biotech’s gtGTU vector, which is a technology for delivering genes to patients, was developed to ensure the stable and prolonged production of therapeutic proteins by the patient’s cells, in a safe manner. The vector thus removes the requirement for frequent administration of biological therapeutics which are cleared from the body after a limited time.

Dr Alastair Smith, Avacta Group Chief Executive Officer, commented: “I am delighted that we are starting this collaboration with FIT Biotech. The Affimer technology is an ideal platform for gene delivery, and working with FIT Biotech’s powerful gtGTU vector technology could lead to multiple therapeutic benefits and create a best-in-class gene therapy combination with significant potential.  It is a very exciting prospect and the Group is keen to see the initial data from the pilot study which we anticipate will be in the first half of 2018.”

James Kuo, Chief Executive Officer of FIT Biotech commented: “We very much look forward to working on this project together with Avacta. Affimer technology offers an exciting opportunity to take targeted therapies to a new level. The high target specificity and small size of Affimer molecules combined with gtGTU’s ability to produce therapeutics at high level for a prolonged period of time makes this combination potentially very powerful. This collaboration follows our strategy of bringing gtGTU to the gene therapy market through strong partnerships.”


ENDS


About Avacta Group plc (www.avacta.com)

Avacta’s principal focus is on its proprietary Affimer® technology which is a novel engineered alternative to antibodies that has wide application in Life Sciences for diagnostics, therapeutics and general research and development.

Antibodies dominate markets worth in excess of $50bn despite their shortcomings. Affimer technology has been designed to address many of these negative performance issues, principally; the time taken to generate new antibodies, the reliance on an animal’s immune response, poor specificity in many cases, and batch to batch variability. Affimer technology is based on a small protein that can be quickly generated to bind with high specificity and affinity to a wide range of protein targets. 

Avacta has a pre-clinical biotech development programme with an in-house focus on immuno-oncology and bleeding disorders as well as partnered development programmes. Avacta is commercialising non-therapeutic Affimer reagents through licensing to developers of life sciences research tools and diagnostics.

About FIT Biotech
FIT Biotech Oy is a biotechnology company established in 1995.  The company develops and licenses its patented GTU® (Gene Transport Unit) vector technology for new-generation medical treatments. GTU® is a gene transport technology that meets an important medical challenge in the usability of gene therapy and DNA vaccines.

FIT Biotech applies GTU® technology in its drug development programmes.  Application areas include cancer (gene therapy) and infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis, as well as animal vaccines.

FIT Biotech shares are listed on the First North Finland marketplace maintained by Nasdaq Helsinki Oy.