Avacta to collaborate with Glythera to develop antibody-drug conjugates

The tie-up aims to create an analogous leading protein drug conjugate platform with a number of benefits over current ADC offerings

Avacta, based in Wetherby, UK, will collaborate with Glythera, a biootechnology firm based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to develop a new class of highly targeted biotherapeutics as an alternative to current antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).

No financial details have been released.

ADCs use an antibody to which a toxin/chemotherapy payload is chemically attached for targeted delivery to a tumour. More than 50 ADCs are currently in clinical development and of these, approximately a quarter are in Phase II or Phase III trials.

Avacta said the ADC market is currently worth around $1bn from two approved compounds and is expected to be worth $10bn annually by 2024.

The collaboration will evaluate the use of Avacta’s Affimer technology in combination with Glythera’s PermaLink conjugation chemistry.

Avacta said the combined potential benefits of these technologies 'have the potential to create an analogous leading protein drug conjugate platform with a number of benefits over current ADC offerings'.

The Affimer technology provides the ability to closely control the position and number of toxins in the payload, has the benefit of much shorter development times, and has the flexibility to “design-in” the time the drug spends in the bloodstream. It is also much easier to use, is more consistent and has lower cost production, the firm said.

This partnership with Glythera will further demonstrate the utility of the Affimer platform as a powerful approach to generating a broad range of biotherapeutics

Avacta said the small size of the Affimer molecule is also likely to improve tumour penetration compared with antibodies which are ten times larger.

Glythera’s PermaLink chemical linkers are said to provide much more stable attachment of the toxin/chemotherapy and can potentially reduce off-target toxicity effects.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will develop materials and methods to be used in the generation of Affimer-drug conjugates. The proof of concept study aims to demonstrate the key technical and commercial benefits of the combination over traditional antibody and linker approaches.

The two firms will partner to offer Affimer-drug conjugate development services, and licensing of the combined platform, to pharmaceutical developers.

'This partnership with Glythera will further demonstrate the utility of the Affimer platform as a powerful approach to generating a broad range of biotherapeutics, creating opportunities for third party licensing of the platform with the potential to generate long-term value for both companies,' said Dr Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Avacta.

Dr Dave Simpson, Chief Executive of Glythera, added: 'Combining Glythera’s PermaLink conjugation chemistry with Avacta’s Affimer technology will demonstrate the benefits of PermaLink across a new targeting molecule class, opening additional avenues for bringing novel therapeutic assets to market.'

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