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Avacta Group plc. (2/3/14). "Press Release: Avacta Life Sciences Initiates Collaboration with University of Liverpool".

Region Region United Kingdom (GB)
Organisations Organisation Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT)
  Group Avacta (Group)
  Organisation 2 University of Liverpool, Dept. of Integrative Biology
  Group University of Liverpool
Products Product Affimer microarray
  Product 2 mass spectrometry (MS)
Index term Index term Avacta–Univ Liverpool: microarray technology, 201402– collab to combine Affimer microarrays w mass spec for methods for biomarker + target discovery
Person Person Beynon, Robert (Rob) (Univ Liverpool 201402 Prof Dept of Integrative Biology + Head Mass Spec Facilty)

Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the global provider of proprietary diagnostic tools, consumables and reagents for human and animal healthcare, is pleased to announce that Avacta Life Sciences has initiated a collaboration with Professor Rob Beynon and his team at Liverpool University to combine Affimer microarrays and reagents with mass spectrometry with the aim of delivering powerful new methods for biomarker and drug target discovery.

Prof. Beynon in the Department of Integrative Biology at Liverpool University was recently awarded a Royal Society Industrial Fellowship to work with Waters (a leading mass spectrometer manufacturer) and Avacta, with a focus on developing approaches to handling complex protein mixtures for proteomic analysis.

Affimers are engineered affinity reagents that have been designed as alternatives to antibodies. Affimers are based on a small protein called stefin A that can be engineered to bind with high specificity and affinity to a wide range of protein targets thereby creating a potentially large menu of affinity reagents. Avacta is focused on the commercialisation of Affimers as research reagents and for use in microarrays for proteomics.

Affimer microarrays comprise tens of thousands of Affimers printed in a two dimensional matrix onto a specially prepared glass slide. When a biological sample such as serum is washed over the array some proteins from the sample will become bound to Affimers in the array creating a protein "signature" of the sample. By comparing this protein signature from healthy individuals and those with a particular disease, differences (increases or decreases in protein content) may be identified. These differences are highly valuable because they may be used as biomarkers to develop new diagnostics or could be new drug targets. Since Affimers can be made in high throughput in the laboratory it is possible to produce much larger Affimer microarrays than the largest antibody microarrays currently on the market. In principle, larger arrays means a greater likelihood of identifying new biomarkers.

The project aims to develop efficient methods for identifying proteins highlighted by the array as being different between healthy and diseased samples. Mass spectrometry is an ideal approach to protein identification and Prof. Beynon in the Department of Integrative Biology at Liverpool University heads one of the leading biological mass spectrometry facilities in the UK and is an acknowledged expert in this field of proteomics (the study of all proteins in a complex biological sample). Avacta are supporting a full time research student in the team and providing Affimer arrays for the project.

The collaboration with Professor Beynon and his team aims to combine and optimise the arrays and mass spectrometry workflows to create a powerful but straightforward method of biomarker discovery and identification. The essential method development, carried out by Professor Beynon's team, will give Avacta a strong competitive offering to underpin the commercialisation of its Affimer microarrays and, potentially, generate new and licensable biomarker assets in house.

Alastair Smith, Chief Executive of Avacta said: "The work with Professor Beynon is a key collaboration for us as it expands the commercial potential for Affimers considerably. Identification of proteins that are highlighted as potential biomarkers by the Affimer microarrays adds hugely to the value of this type of analysis. Although many of our customers will have access to mass spectrometry Avacta plans to offer this type of proteomic analysis to our customers. Integrating the arrays and mass spectrometry analysis efficiently will give us a strong competitive advantage in this fast growing proteomics market."


Avacta Group plc
Tel: +44 (0) 844 414 0452
Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer
Tim Sykes, Chief Financial Officer

Numis Securities Limited
Tel: +44 (0) 207 260 1000
Michael Meade / Freddie Barnfield - Nominated Adviser
James Black - Corporate Broking

Walbrook PR Ltd
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7933 8780 or
Mike Wort
Mob: +44 (0)7900 608 002
Anna Dunphy
Mob: +44 (0)7876 741 001

About Avacta Group plc -

Avacta Group plc is a global provider of innovative technologies, consumables and reagents for the life science markets, from drug discovery to diagnostics. Avacta operates through three divisions:

Avacta Analytical

High throughput analysis instrument, Optim, to help reduce the cost and risk of drug development.

Avacta Animal Health

Veterinary diagnostics reference laboratory, diagnostic kits and newly launched in-clinic blood analyser, Sensipod.

Avacta Life Sciences

Novel non-antibody affinity reagents called Affimers, with a wide range of Life Science applications in diagnostics, drug and biomarker discover and biotech research and development.

Avacta joined AIM in August 2006 and is based in Wetherby, England.

Record changed: 2016-01-10


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