Avacta’s joint venture raises $7.3m to advance pipeline

AffyXell Therapeutics, the joint venture between Yorkshire life sciences firm, Avacta Group, and South Korean-based Daewoong Pharmaceutical, has raised $7.3 million in Series A financing.

The venture capital investment will be used for the cell and gene therapy joint venture to advance its pipeline.

AffyXell was established in January 2020 by Avacta and Daewoong as to develop novel mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapies.

AffyXell is combining Avacta’s Affimer platform with Daewoong’s MSC platform such that the stem cells are genetically modified to produce and secrete therapeutic Affimer proteins in situ in the patient.

The Affimer proteins are designed to enhance the therapeutic effects of the MSC creating a novel, next generation cell therapy platform.

The Series A funding has been raised from a group of venture funds including Samsung Venture Investment Corporation, Shinhan Venture Investment, Smilegate Investment, Shinhan Investment Corporation, Kolon Investment, Stonebridge Ventures, and Gyeongnam Venture Investment.

The capital raised will be used by AffyXell to further the development of MSCs engineered to produce Affimer molecules generated by Avacta that suppress immune response and restore immune balance.

While initially focusing on inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and prevention of organ transplant rejection, longer term goals could also include applications in regenerative medicine, infectious diseases and oncology.

Under the terms of the collaboration and licence agreement, Avacta’s research and development costs associated with the generation of the Affimer proteins are funded by AffyXell whilst Avacta retains the rights to commercialise the Affimer proteins outside the field of cell therapies.

“The potential for AffyXell’s new class of MSC therapies to deliver improved treatments for a wide range of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases is significant, in a market estimated to be worth $16 billion by 2025,” said Dr Alastair Smith, CEO of Avacta Group.

“We expect these novel engineered MSCs to show a more powerful therapeutic effect than existing antibodies and stem cells and they therefore have the potential to lead the rapidly growing field of cell and gene therapy.

“AffyXell is uniquely positioned to develop novel and powerful cell therapies through the combination of two world-class technologies: Avacta’s Affimer platform and Daewoong’s proprietary technology for generating “off-the-shelf” allogeneic MSC therapies.

“Completion of the Series A funding is a strong validation of this concept and moves us closer to providing these new therapies to the patients who need them.”

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