Therapeutics

Developing the next generation of cancer therapies

Avacta is developing novel cancer immunotherapies combining its two proprietary platforms – Affimer® biotherapeutics and pre|CISIONTM tumour targeted chemotherapy. With this approach, the Company aims to address the lack of a durable response to current cancer immunotherapies as well as current high off-target toxicity experienced by most patients.

Avacta entered the clinic with its lead pre|CISION™ programme AVA6000, a tumour activated form of doxorubicin, in summer 2021. The lead Affimer® programme, a PD-L1 Affimer® antagonist, will form the basis of future bispecifics, combinations with pre|CISION™ chemotherapies and novel tumour microenvironment activated drug conjugates (TMAC®).

Avacta has established drug development partnerships with pharma and biotech, including a research collaboration with ModernaTx, Inc., a development and commercialisation deal with LG Chem worth up to $310m and a collaboration with ADC Therapeutics to develop novel Affimer® drug conjugates. The Company is actively seeking to license its proprietary platforms in a range of therapeutic areas.

Meet the team

THERAPEUTICS LEADERSHIP TEAM
Alastair Smith

Alastair Smith

Chief Executive Officer
Biography

TMAC Programme Accelerates: Clinical Trial Planned for Early 2020

Alastair is Chief Executive of Avacta Group plc.

He has been responsible for the management and strategic development of the company and has led the public and private M&A activities of the Group since the IPO on AIM which was completed via a reverse merger in 2006. Alastair is a respected and trusted executive with many years experience of investor relations in the UK, Europe and US and has successfully delivered multiple follow-on fundraisings for the Group totalling over £120m.

Avacta Group is developing next generation oncology drugs based on its proprietary Affimer® and preCISIONTM platforms through its clinical stage Therapeutics Division based in Cambridge, UK. Its Diagnostics Division, based in Wetherby, UK, is developing a pipeline of diagnostic immunoassays utilising Affimer® reagents and works with partners world-wide to develop Affimer-powered products. The Group has around one hundred employees across its two sites and a business development team in the US.

He has a degree and PhD in Physics from Manchester University and, following a period of working in the US, took up a position at Leeds University in 1995. At the age of 38 he was awarded a Chair of Molecular Biophysics and had, over ten years, grew one of the leading biophysics research groups in Europe before he left his academic career in 2007 to focus full time on delivering value to Avacta shareholders.

Matt Vincent

Matt Vincent

Vice President, Business Development and Therapeutic Innovation Strategy
Biography

Dr. Vincent is a senior executive with over 25 years’ experience in multiple areas of biotechnology and life science. He joins Avacta from Arisaph Pharmaceuticals where he led corporate development and therapeutic innovation strategy delivering around $100m in license revenues in the past three years. Prior to Arisaph, Matthew was Director of Business Development at Ocata Therapeutics where he had responsibility for all commercial affairs including product licensing and divestment, asset acquisition and complex commercial negotiations as well as the eventual acquisition of Ocata by Astellas Pharmaceuticals. Matthew’s experience also includes developing therapeutic product profiles for regenerative medicine and immuno-oncology, pricing/reimbursement and regulatory strategy. From his previous work as a lawyer and patent attorney, he has experience in worldwide patent portfolio strategy and IP diligence, regulatory affairs strategy, private and public financing and patent litigation.

Neil Bell

Neil Bell

Chief Development Officer
Biography

Neil is responsible for late stage pre-clinical and early clinical development of Avacta’s pipeline of pre|CISIONTM pro-drugs and Affimer® immunotherapies. 

Neil has over 30 years’ experience in the drug development industry, having held senior positions in global pharmaceutical companies and innovative biotechs. The early part of his career was spent in clinical development at Eisai and Pfizer before becoming Therapeutic Area Head for Gastroenterology and Neurology at Ipsen. In each of these roles he led numerous Phase I to III clinical studies, gaining significant experience across all facets of drug development; from strategy to pre-clinical development, manufacturing and regulatory, to clinical study design and implementation.

In his role as Head of Global Clinical Operations for Teva Pharmaceuticals, Neil led an international team responsible for the delivery of clinical programmes in neurology, autoimmune and oncology therapeutic areas. During this period he contributed to the development of Copaxone achieving leadership in the treatment for multiple sclerosis globally, as well as successfully introducing Azilect to global markets. 

Following this period at Teva, Neil joined Daichi-Sankyo as Head of Clinical Operations where he led the clinical operations team through early and late stage development activities across cardiovascular, pain and oncology, and was responsible for building an effective drug development organisation in Europe serving the global clinical programmes and leading to the successful global approval of Edoxaban. 

Most recently, Neil held the role of Senior Vice President, Head of Global Clinical Operations at Autolus, a UK cell and gene therapy company backed by Syncona, which listed in the US in 2018 (NASDAQ: AUTL); a process in which Neil played a key role. At Autolus Neil was responsible for building a fully functional global clinical operations team delivering Phase I/II clinical studies across the UK, Europe and US in acute lymphoblastic leukemia, multiple myeloma, B-cell lymphoma, and T-cell lymphoma, and implemented the first commercially sponsored CAR-T study in the UK.

Fiona McLaughlin

Fiona McLaughlin

Chief Scientific Officer, Therapeutics
Biography

Dr Fiona 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.

Scientific Advisory Board
Professor James Spicer

Professor James Spicer

Biography

James Spicer MB., BA., PhD., FRCP is Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine in the School of Cancer & Pharmaceutical Studies at King’s College London, and Consultant in Medical Oncology at Guy’s & St. Thomas’ Hospitals. He has a PhD in cancer biology, and a degree in biochemistry from the University of Oxford. He has established and runs a world-leading Phase 1 clinical trials programme in solid tumour oncology at Guy’s Hospital, where the portfolio of studies includes novel immunotherapies discovered and developed at King’s as well as many externally sponsored studies.

Professor Krishna Komanduri

Professor Krishna Komanduri

Biography

Professor Krishna Komanduri, M.D. is Chief of the Division of Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami, holds the Kalish Family Chair in Stem Cell Transplantation and serves as the Associate Chief Medical Officer for Clinical Innovation at Sylvester.  He is a Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology and a physician-scientist with a laboratory focused on T cell immunology in cancer.

Dr. Komanduri serves on the United Health Care Oncology Advisory Committee and on the Optum Health Blood and Marrow Transplantation Advisory Committee. He is a past Chair of the American Society of Hematology Scientific Committee on Host Defense, is the current Chair of the ASTCT Cellular Therapy Committee and Chair-Elect of the Government Relations Committee.

Among his honors, he was elected into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (2009), and was recently inducted in to the Henry Kunkel Society (2021) and into the second class to be named Fellow of the American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (2021).

Dr Stéphane Champiat

Dr Stéphane Champiat

Biography

Dr Stéphane Champiat MD, PhD is a physician at Gustave Roussy Cancer Center in Villejuif, France. He has been working since 2012 in the Drug Development Department of Gustave Roussy where he is involved in the development of cancer therapeutics, in particular new immunotherapies. He has been principal investigator or co-investigator of more than 50 phase I clinical trials run by many of the worlds leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies. He is particularly involved in the coordination of the immunotherapy toxicity management program and the development of the intra-tumoral immunotherapy strategy at Gustave Roussy.

Applications

Avacta’s proprietary Affimer® biotherapeutics can be developed for a range of applications.

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Pipeline

Avacta has a pre-clinical stage biopharmaceutical pipeline of Affimer therapeutic candidates.

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Partnerships

Avacta works with partners where there is mutual interest in co-funding a development programme.

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partnerships

Avacta works with therapeutics development partners through research collaborations and licensing arrangements

Avacta’s pre|CISIONTM technology can be utilised in a drug conjugate linker or to generate chemotherapy pro-drugs that are only activated in the tumour.

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