Wetherby’s Avacta gets clinical trial go-ahead

Shares of Wetherby-based diagnostics company Avacta Group plc rose about 4% on Monday after it announced US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its Investigational New Drug (IND) application for AVA6000.

Avacta Group is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing cancer therapies and diagnostics based on its proprietary Affimer and pre|CISION platforms

“This will allow the group to expand its Phase I clinical trial, ALS-6000-101, into clinical trial sites in the United States,” said Avacta.

AVA6000 is a novel form of doxorubicin that has been modified with Avacta’s pre|CISION platform to improve its safety and therapeutic index.

“Anthracyclines such as doxorubicin, a generic chemotherapy for which the market is expected to grow to $1.38bn by 2024, are widely used as part of standard of care in several tumour types, but their use is limited by cumulative toxicity.

“AVA6000 has been designed to limit cell penetration of the drug, and therefore its cell killing effect, until it is specifically activated by fibroblast activation protein α (FAP) which is in high concentration in many solid tumours compared with healthy tissues.

“The resulting reduced exposure of healthy tissues to active doxorubicin has the potential to significantly increase its therapeutic index by reducing the incidence of adverse effects, including cardiotoxicity and myelosuppression.

The FDA has completed its 30-day review of Avacta’s IND application, which was submitted ahead of schedule in October 2021, and has concluded that the group may proceed with its proposed clinical investigation.

“This allows Avacta to enroll eligible patients into US clinical trial sites for the company’s Phase I multi-centre study, ALS-6000-101.

“As previously announced in August 2021, the company has begun recruiting and dosing patients for this study at several clinical trial sites in the UK, and continues to expect the dose escalation phase for this trial to complete by Q2 2022 followed by completion of the dose expansion phase around mid-2023.

“Enrollment in US clinical trial sites is expected to begin in early 2022.”

Avacta Group CEO Alastair Smith said: “We are delighted to have received approval from the FDA to add clinical trial sites in the United States as part of the Phase I study for AVA6000.

“This is a major milestone in our development of pre|CISION chemotherapies and is testament to the performance of our clinical development team and the quality of the pre-clinical data for AVA6000.

“Provided that the study shows that the pre|CISION technology is effective in reducing systemic toxicity of Doxorubicin, then that would open up an extensive and proprietary pipeline for Avacta of next-generation pre|CISION chemotherapies with significant clinical and commercial advantages in a chemotherapy market that is expected to exceed $74 billion by 2027.

“We now look forward to opening up clinical trial sites in the United States and additional clinical trial sites in the UK.”

Neil Bell, Chief Development Officer of Avacta Life Sciences, said: “We are excited to bring the first FAP-activated chemotherapeutic to the clinic in the US, which has the potential to meaningfully impact patients with difficult-to-treat tumours.

“The clearance of the AVA6000 IND by the FDA enables the opening of key US sites to support the ALS-6000-101 clinical trial which is currently recruiting patients across clinical sites in the UK.”

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.