Avacta in deal talks over latest medical innovation

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DIAGNOSTICS specialist Avacta Group is in talks with a wide range of potential customers for its latest invention – Affimers, a hi-tech alternative to animal antibodies.

​The Wetherby-based company designed Affimers in order to address the negative performance issues that exist with real antibodies, namely the time it takes to generate new antibodies and the variation in batches.

Avacta said that its man-made antibodies are much more resilient, cheaper and stronger than animal antibodies.

​The company​, which​ designs and makes devices to speed up and reduce the cost of drug development and analysis​, ​said antibodies can easily get damaged when ​they are made into products.

​Companies use a​ntibodies​​ in laboratory tests to help scientific research, drug development, diagnostics and purification.

Avacta’s chief executive Dr Alastair Smith said the group will launch an Affimers catalogue on its website this summer.

This will be aimed a mixture of academic and commercial customers, including plasma, biotech and food companies.

Food producers use antibodies to test enzyme activity in food safety.

“There are opportunities for us outside medicine,” said Dr Smith.

“This is an exciting time for the group. The opportunity for Affimers looks enormous. It’s bigger than the opportunity for animal health and the analytical business. Affimers could become the most significant part of the group.”

He was speaking yesterday as Avacta announced a 40 per cent increase in half year revenues to £1.61m.

Pre-tax losses for the six months to January 31 fell from £1m to £800,000.

Asked when the group will make a profit, Dr Smith said: “We said we’d be profitable in 2012 and then we added the Affimers business. It depends on us being able to drive revenues. I think profitability is visible now.”

Elsewhere in the group, the animal health division recently launched a lymphoma blood test for dogs in the UK. It has also launched a new test for pancreatitis, a very common inflammatory disorder of the pancreas in dogs.