Avacta opens UK facilities to bolster antibody alternative development

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Avacta's site in Wetherby, UK. Image c/o Avacta Group
Avacta's site in Wetherby, UK. Image c/o Avacta Group

Related tags Protein

Avacta has opened two UK facilities supporting development of Affimer proteins which it says could be alternatives to antibodies for therapeutic use.

The newly-opened sites in Wetherby and Cambridge, UK adds a total of 9,000 sq ft of laboratory and manufacturing space - almost doubling Avacta Group’s current footprint - and focuses on the development of its Affimer technology.

The Affirmer platform – acquired when Avacta bought Aptuscan in 2012 - is based on a small human protein that can be engineered to bind with high specificity and affinity to a wide range of protein targets, and according to chief commercial officer Philippe Cotrel involves a well-established bacterial expression process.

“The process for producing Affimer proteins is a straightforward bacterial expression process using E.coli. It is currently done using benchtop equipment and can be easily scaled up using standard bioprocessing equipment,”​ he told Biopharma-Reporter.com.

“At this stage, production is not a bottleneck and the expansion is to support our increased therapeutic focus as well as our custom service and reagent R&D efforts.”

The Wetherby facility will focus on reagents for research and diagnostics, as well as providing a third party service, while the Cambridge plant will focus on therapeutics both for both internal and co-development pipelines.

But though Affimer therapeutics are still in the pre-clinical stage of development, Cotrel said such products have “significant potential benefits”​ over traditional antibodies for therapeutic use.

“Affimer biotherapeutics can be engineered to have tuneable half-life, which can be tailored according to therapeutic need,” ​he said, adding they are smaller than antibodies and “therefore have the potential to exhibit higher tissue penetration.”

He continued, saying “bi-specificity is much easier to achieve with Affimer biotherapeutics vs antibodies, and fusions to other functional proteins are simple to generate and manufacture, enabling combination targets.”

Related topics Bio Developments

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