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Tuesday 09 June, 2020

Avacta Group PLC

Update on COVID-19 Test Development with Adeptrix

RNS Number : 3248P
Avacta Group PLC
09 June 2020
 

 

9 June 2020

Avacta Group plc

("Avacta" or "the Group" or "the Company")

 

Update on COVID-19 Antigen Diagnostic Test Development with Adeptrix

 

Highly specific prototype test detects the virus spike protein at clinically relevant concentrations

 

Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of Affimer biotherapeutics and reagents, is pleased to announce that a BAMSTM diagnostic test for the COVID-19 infection, being developed with its partner Adeptrix (Beverly MA, USA), has reached prototype stage and can detect the coronavirus spike protein in model samples in the concentration range appropriate for a clinical diagnostic test.

 

The bead-assisted mass spectrometry ("BAMS") assay uses the Affimer reagents specific to the SARS-COV-2 virus recently developed by Avacta to capture the virus spike protein from the sample for rapid detection by mass spectrometry.

 

A prototype assay has now been developed and evaluated by Adeptrix using model samples containing the coronavirus spike protein. The unique method breaks up the spike protein captured from the samples by Affimer coated beads and is able to identify fragments of the spike protein using mass spectrometry, at concentrations in the range found in patient samples generated from standard throat swabs.

 

The combination of the selectivity of the Affimer reagents used to capture the virus spike protein with the precision and accuracy of mass spectrometry detection provides for a very high degree of specificity in the assay.

 

The next step in the development of the final product to run on the installed base of mass spectrometers in clinical laboratories around the world is to evaluate and optimise the BAMS assay using patient samples at laboratory sites in the UK and US which will be done imminently before moving to manufacturing, clinical validation to quantify the sensitivity and specificity and CE/FDA approval for professional use in the summer.

 

Dr Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Avacta Group, commented:

 "I am very pleased with the rapid progress made by our partners at Adeptrix and delighted that the Affimer reagents that we have developed to detect the SARS-COV-2 spike protein are working very well in the BAMS assay.  This bodes well for all our COVID-19 antigen test development programmes.

 

We are now looking forward to testing the prototype BAMS assay with patient samples in the UK very soon, whilst Adeptrix does the same at a site in the US. This will keep us on track for launch of a product for professional use in the summer.

 

A COVID-19 BAMS assay could provide highly sensitive and specific testing for up to a thousand samples per day in the hospital setting using standard equipment that is available but not currently used for coronavirus testing thus contributing significantly to an increase in global testing capacity .

 

We continue to make very good progress with Cytiva on the saliva-based antigen test and I look forward to updating the market soon on both of these product developments as well as future additional partnerships."

 

Dr. Jeffrey C. Silva, Director of Product Development, Adeptrix Corporation commented:

" We are excited to apply Avacta's Affimer reagents to monitor COVID-19 infection because they are very well suited for large-scale manufacturing and have stable lot-to-lot performance due to it being a recombinant technology.

 

The BAMS assay for the spike protein serves as a useful diagnostic tool because this particular viral protein is displayed on the surface of the virus particle and directly involved in engaging host cells (via ACE2 receptor) during infection.  For this reason, the same BAMS assay for the spike protein can also be used for drug development efforts to screen compounds that block interaction with host cells through the ACE2 receptor to prevent virus infection.

 

Future work will include testing Affimer reagents to other SARS-COV-2 antigens, such as nucleocapsid protein. Diagnostic assays to nucleocapsid protein may enhance sensitivity for detection of COVID-19 infection, since this is a highly abundant viral protein.

 

Expanding detection to other SARS-COV-2 antigens will enable configuration of a multiplexed BAMS assay to simultaneously monitor multiple viral proteins for added specificity in the case of future pandemics. The precision and accuracy of mass spectrometry detection using the BAMS assay platform will allow researchers to monitor molecular changes that may occur through natural evolution of the virus. "

 

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).

 

- Ends-

 

For further information from Avacta Group plc, please contact:

Avacta Group plc

Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer

Tony Gardiner, Chief Financial Officer

 

Tel:  +44 (0) 844 414 0452

www.avacta.com

finnCap Ltd (Nominated Adviser and Joint Broker)

Geoff Nash / Giles Rolls - Corporate Finance

Tim Redfern - E CM

Tel:  +44 (0) 207 220 0500

www.finncap.com

 

Zeus Capital Limited (Joint Broker)

John Goold / Rupert Woolfenden - Corporate Broking

 

Yellow Jersey PR (Financial Media and IR)

Sarah Hollins

Henry Wilkinson

 

Zyme Communications (Trade and Regional Media)

Katie Odgaard

 

Tel: +44 (0)203 829 5000

www.zeuscapital.co.uk

 

 

Tel: +44 (0)203 004 9512

[email protected]

 

 

Tel: +44 (0)7787 502 947

[email protected]  

 

 

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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