Avectas attracts $20m to scale-up non-viral cell engineering tech

Avectas has secured funds needed to scale-up its cell engineering technology and expand its teams in the US and Ireland.

Dublin-based Avectas attracted $20m of equity investment in a series C fundraising round completed on April 16.

The firm plans to use the funds to scale up its Soluporation technology and to expand its commercial, regulatory and technical organization within Ireland and the US.

Image: iStock/Andy

CEO Michael Maguire told us “We will accelerate our translation and scale-up by engagement with external CDMOs and partners such as those we have already announced with CCRM in Toronto and Vycellix in Florida.

“We will work on parallel pathways towards regulatory and IND enabling studies with these and other partners.”

Technology

The Soluporation platform is a cell membrane permeabilization technology that can be used to introduce material – DNA, RNA, proteins – into cells. These cells can then be used to make biopharmaceutical or as cell therapies.

The advantage of Avectas’ system is it is able to deliver material without rely on vectors or techniques that impact the cell membrane Maguire says.

“Soluporation is a non-viral technology. Unlike electroporation or mechanoporation the cell population is not subjected to electrical or mechanical stresses. As such, it is a very gentle but highly effective technique.”

Vector alternative

In recent years viral vector producers have struggled to keep up with demand from the cell and gene therapy sector.

In 2017, for example the New York Times said the lack of vectors was a road block for gene therapy developers.

While the situation has improved with CDMOs (here and here) investing in capacity and technology firms ramping up platform production, efforts to find alternatives have continued.

Avectas’ technology is a potential viral vector replacement according to Maguire.

“Soluporation performs exceptionally well with mRNA and or common gene editing tools. As these tools develop, they will give developers alternatives to viral vectors for introducing a transgene transiently or permanently.

He added that, “Because Solupore can introduce multiple cargos simultaneously, there are exciting applications in solid mass immune-oncology and in allogeneic, off-the-shelf cell therapies.”

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