Avacta Group plc announce that the principal patent covering the Affimer technology has been granted in Europe. Additionally, a new patent is to be granted in the United States which extends the Company’s intellectual property portfolio there.
The main patent relating to the Affimer intellectual property is already granted in the US and Japan, and is pending in other territories. The European Patent Office has now made the decision to grant the European counterpart patent (2,279,205). Separately the US Patent Office has issued a Notice of Allowance relating to US patent application 14/478,910. This will extend the coverage of Avacta’s intellectual property in the US to be in-line with the coverage now granted in Europe.
The Affimer technology is based on a small protein that has been engineered to present a “sticky” surface that can be made to bind strongly and specifically to a target of interest such as another protein, peptide or chemical. The way in which the protein has been engineered, to give it the ability to bind a target, is the core invention covered by Avacta’s intellectual property.
The commercial value of this intellectual property lies partly in the use of the Affimer proteins to capture a target from a sample so that it can be detected and quantified as part of a new diagnostic test, for example, or may facilitate new laboratory assays that are used in a wide range of life sciences’ research and development. Recently the Company demonstrated the benefits of Affimer technology by generating three new Affimer reagents each capable of specifically binding a protein biomarker of the Zika infection. Antibodies that bind this biomarker, without cross-reacting with biomarkers from related diseases, such as dengue fever, are not available and therefore these new Affimers offer the potential of a unique rapid diagnostic.
A further significant commercial opportunity for Affimer technology lies in therapeutic applications. If the binding of the Affimer to the target also blocks the target’s normal function then this presents the opportunity to create new drugs to interrupt disease processes and provide therapeutic benefit. The Company is engaged in developing such Affimer inhibitors of disease processes involved in cancer and blood clotting, as well as working with partners to provide Affimer therapeutics for their drug programmes.
Dr Alastair Smith, Avacta Group Chief Executive Officer, commented: “The granting of the European patent for the core Affimer intellectual property, as well as the extension of the scope of the patent protection in the US, is excellent news and adds further strength to our intellectual property position. We continue to develop the core technology and I look forward to updating the market regarding future patent applications as they occur.”