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Avacta Group PLC (AVCT)


Thursday 02 September, 2021

Avacta Group PLC

Appointment of Chief Scientific Officer

RNS Number : 5180K
Avacta Group PLC
02 September 2021


2 September 2021


Avacta Group plc


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


Appointment of Dr Fiona McLaughlin as Chief Scientific Officer of Avacta's Therapeutics Division


Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing innovative cancer therapies and powerful diagnostics based on its proprietary Affimer® and pre|CISION™ platforms, announces the appointment of Dr Fiona McLaughlin as Chief Scientific Officer of its Therapeutics Division effective immediately.


Dr McLaughlin is a highly experienced oncology drug developer, bringing over 25 years' experience in research and translational drug development in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, having led teams from early research through to clinical development. Fiona started her career at GlaxoSmithKline and has subsequently held leadership positions in multiple biotech companies including Vice President, Translational Research at Antisoma plc and Director of Pre-clinical Development at BTG plc (now part of Boston Scientific).


Other roles include Head of Biology at TopoTarget A/S, where she was responsible for the pre-clinical development of belinostat which went on to gain FDA approval to treat peripheral T-cell lymphoma. Most recently, Fiona was Vice President of New Opportunities at Algeta ASA (acquired by Bayer), a Norwegian biotech developing alpha radio-pharmaceuticals, that gained FDA approval of Xofigo to treat castration resistant prostate cancer.


Fiona has also gained broad experience during her career as a Consultant, providing scientific and strategic advice to biotechs, Not-for-Profit Organisations, and Venture Capitalists in UK, Europe, USA and Australia, including helping drive oncology strategy at the CRUK/AstraZeneca Alliance Laboratory. Fiona received a PhD from the Haematology Department at Cambridge University and has a BSc in Biochemistry from Glasgow University.


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

"We are delighted to have Fiona McLaughlin join us as Chief Scientific Officer of our Therapeutics Division. Fiona is a seasoned drug developer with an outstanding track record in developing oncology drug candidates and taking them into clinical development. She brings a huge amount of experience, deep insight and strong leadership that will be major assets to Avacta in driving forward both the Affimer® and pre|CISION™ clinical and preclinical pipelines and I look forward working with her."


Dr Fiona McLaughlin , Chief Scientific Officer - Therapeutics Division, commented:

"I am delighted to join Avacta's Therapeutics Division at this pivotal time, as the company transitions to become a clinical stage development organisation. I look forward to the opportunity of driving the strategic leadership of the company's therapeutics research and am excited by the potential of the pre|CISION™ and Affimer® platforms, to develop first and best-in-class oncology therapeutics, to ultimately provide patients with important new treatment options.


"Both platforms offer huge potential to build on and expand the existing pipeline and, with the experienced R&D leadership team, we have the ability to take assets from early discovery through to late-stage clinical development. I am looking forward to using my deep-rooted knowledge of oncology drug development to drive projects into the clinic and help bring innovative medicines to patients."


-Ends -


For further information from Avacta Group plc, please contact:

Avacta Group plc

Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer

Tony Gardiner, Chief Financial Officer

Michael Vinegrad, Group Communications Director


Tel: +44 (0) 844 414 0452


Stifel Nicolaus Europe Limited (Nomad and Broker)

Nicholas Moore / Nick Adams / Fred Walsh / Ben Maddison


Tel: +44 (0) 207 710 7600

FTI Consulting (Financial Media and IR)

Simon Conway / Stephanie Cuthbert


Tel: +44(0) 203 727 1000

[email protected]

Zyme Communications (Trade and Regional Media)

Lily Jeffery

Tel: +44 (0)7891 477 378

[email protected]


About Avacta Group plc -


Avacta Group is developing novel cancer immunotherapies and powerful diagnostics based on its two proprietary platforms - Affimer® biologics and pre|CISION™ tumour targeted chemotherapies.


The Affimer® platform is an alternative to antibodies derived from a small human protein. Despite their shortcomings, antibodies currently dominate markets, such as diagnostics and therapeutics, worth in excess of $100bn. Affimer technology has been designed to address many of these negative performance issues, principally: the time taken to generate new antibodies and the reliance on an animal's immune response; poor specificity in many cases; their large size, complexity and high cost of manufacture.


Avacta's pre|CISION™ targeted chemotherapy platform releases active chemotherapy in the tumour, which limits the systemic exposure that causes damage to healthy tissues, and thereby improves the overall safety and therapeutic potential of these powerful anti-cancer treatments.


The Group comprises two divisions: The therapeutics development activities are based in Cambridge, UK and the Group is generating near-term revenues from Affimer reagents for diagnostics, bioprocessing and research, through a separate diagnostics business unit based in Wetherby, UK.


Avacta's Diagnostics Division works with partners world-wide to develop bespoke Affimer® reagents for third party products. The Group is also developing an in-house pipeline of Affimer-based diagnostic assays including the AffiDX® SARS-CoV-2 Lateral Flow Rapid Antigen Test and AffiDX® BAMS™ SARS-CoV-2 Assay in partnership with Adeptrix Inc.


Avacta's Therapeutics Division is working to deliver a more tolerable and durable treatment response for oncology patients who do not respond to existing immunotherapies. By combining its two proprietary platforms the Group is building a wholly owned pipeline of clinically differentiated cancer therapies, aiming to extend the therapeutic benefits to all cancer patients. In 2021 Avacta transitioned to become a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, commencing a phase I first-in-human, open label, dose-escalation and expansion study of AVA6000, a pro-doxorubicin, the Group's lead pre|CISION™ prodrug, in patients with locally advanced or metastatic selected solid tumours.


Avacta has established drug development partnerships with pharma and biotech, including a research collaboration with ModernaTX,Inc. (formerly Moderna Therapeutics Inc.), a multi-target deal with LG Chem worth up to $400m, a joint venture in South Korea with Daewoong Pharmaceutical focused on cell and gene therapies incorporating Affimer immune-modulators, a partnership with ADC Therapeutics to develop Affimer-drug conjugates and a collaboration with Point Biopharma to develop radiopharmaceuticals based on the pre|CISION™ platform. Avacta continues to actively seek to license its proprietary platforms in a range of therapeutic areas.


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