Wetherby biopharma, Avacta Group, has signed an agreement with its South Korean joint venture to develop affirmer proteins for use in next-gen cell and gene therapies.
Avacta will work with AffyXell Therapeutics – the joint venture it signed with South Korea’s Daewoong Pharmaceutical earlier this year, to develop affirmer proteins against a range of targets.
When produced by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), these proteins are intended to inhibit inflammatory and autoimmune pathways and improve the overall efficacy of MSCs, creating a next generation of stem cell therapies.
The initial focus for AffyXell will be on inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. In the longer term, there is potential for the joint venture to address oncology uses.
“The potential for AffyXell’s new class of cell therapies, which can be applied to a wide range of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, is enormous,” said Dr Alastair Smith, CEO of Avacta Group.
He added: “Our objective is for these cell therapies to finally fully address diseases, such as inflammatory bowel diseases and multiple sclerosis, as well as other autoimmune diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“The potential to make a difference in the quality of life for millions of patients continues to inspires us, as we know it does our colleagues at Daewoong as well.”
As per the collaboration and license agreement, Avacta’s research and development costs associated with generation of the Affimer proteins will be funded by AffyXell.
Additionally, Avacta will retain the rights to commercialise the Affimer proteins outside of the field of cell therapies.
“From a commercial perspective, the global stem cell market is expected to be worth $16 billion by 2025,” Dr Smith said.
“AffyXell has a unique opportunity to combine two world-class technologies, Avacta’s Affimer antibody mimetic platform and Daewoong’s proprietary technology for generating “off-the-shelf” allogeneic MSC therapies to create the next generation of stem cell therapies.
“We believe that this has the potential to create substantial value for stakeholders in the near future.”