Avacta, Daewoong Pharmaceutical Form Immunotherapy Joint Venture

January 8, 2020

The joint venture will develop next-generation cell and gene therapies incorporating Affimer proteins.

On Jan. 8, 2020, Avacta Group, the developer of Affimer biotherapeutics and reagents, announced that it will establish a joint venture in South Korea with Daewoong Pharmaceutical, a Korean pharmaceutical company. The companies have also entered into a collaboration and license agreement for the joint venture to develop the next generation of cell and gene therapies incorporating Affimer proteins, which enhance immune-modulatory effects.

The joint venture will develop a new class of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which the companies report are promising agents for treating autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The new MSCs will be primed to produce Affimer proteins, which are designed to enhance immune-modulatory effects.

Under the agreement, Daewoong will provide the joint venture with access to its proprietary technology for generating allogeneic MSCs from a single donor to treat a large number of patients. This proprietary technology facilitates developing cell therapies as “off-the-shelf” products.

Avacta, in turn, will develop Affimer proteins against several undisclosed targets, which will be transferred to the joint venture to be incorporated into MSCs. The resulting engineered MSCs will have broad ranging therapeutic utility, depending on the Affimer proteins’ intended therapeutic purposes.

Avacta’s R&D costs will be fully covered by the joint venture, and the company retains the rights to commercialize the Affimer proteins outside the field of cell therapies. Avacta’s shareholding in the joint venture is 45%, and Daewoong holds 55%. The joint venture will be operationally managed by Seng-ho Jeon, CEO of Daewoong, with a board composed of representatives from both Avacta-Alastair Smith, Avacta’s CEO, and Matthew Vincent, Avacta’s vice-president, Business Development and Strategy-and Daewoong.

“Our partnership reinforces the shared vision of both companies to design the next level of treatment paradigm, and to open up a new horizon in immunotherapeutic strategies,” said Jeon in a company press release. “This innovative collaboration will deliver invaluable synergy and lead to new solutions with the potential to transform patients’ lives.”

“We are very excited to establish the joint venture with Daewoong, a world-class partner, combining our powerful Affimer platform with MSCs to develop breakthrough medicines targeting immune-mediated diseases,” said Smith in the press release. “Affimer proteins have the potential to selectively modulate signaling pathways in inflammatory diseases in order to reduce the aberrant immune response occurring in those tissues, as well as positively impacting tissue regenerative pathways meant to repair and restore normal function to the affected tissues. We look forward to working closely with the Daewoong team to advance these promising therapeutics and get them to the patients who need them.”

Source: Avacta Group