Avacta Group, the developer of biotherapeutics and reagents, and OncoSec Medical Incorporated, a company developing intratumoral cancer immunotherapies, announced they have entered into a research collaboration to combine Avacta’s Affimer protein platform with OncoSec’s gene delivery technology ImmunoPulse®.
The research programme will evaluate the benefits of delivering Affimer protein genes directly into tumors using the OncoSec technology with the long-term aim of developing gene delivered Affimer immunotherapies. Affimer biotherapeutics are a novel engineered alternative to antibodies based on a fully human small protein that can be quickly engineered to bind with high specificity and affinity to a wide range of protein targets. The size and biophysical characteristics of Affimer proteins make them an ideal candidate for gene delivery approaches.
OncoSec has developed a gene delivery technology called ImmunoPulse that has clinically demonstrated safe and efficient delivery of DNA encoded proteins directly into a patient’s tumor. The collaboration between the companies aims to show that, by using ImmunoPulse to deliver DNA encoding Avacta’s immuno-modulatory Affimers, including Avacta’s PD-L1 inhibitor (AVA04), into tumor cells and other tissues, a clinically relevant dose can be achieved. The companies plan to then demonstrate efficacy of the Affimers in a relevant in vivo tumor model.
Dr Alastair Smith, Avacta Group Chief Executive Officer, commented: “I am very pleased indeed that we have established this research partnership with OncoSec. Gene delivery is a very exciting new area and one in which I believe we can establish Affimer technology as the protein platform of choice because of the technical benefits of using a small, simple protein for this application. We look forward to updating the market on our progress.”
Results from the research collaboration will demonstrate the potential of the combined technologies to create high-value immunotherapy combinations for clinical development and/or licensing.