Astrea licenses Avacta’s Affimer reagent technology

Gamma Biosciences’ bioseparation business Astrea will use the Affimer technology to expand its range of ligand discovery and development capabilities.

Avacta Group’s Affimer reagents are small proteins that have a binding surface that can be tailored to capture a target molecule of interest out of complex mixtures encountered in biomanufacturing.

“The Affimer reagent technology was originally developed at the MRC Cancer Unit in Cambridge UK for proteomics applications and was acquired by Avacta in 2012,” Alastair Smith, CEO of Avacta Group, told BioProcess Insider. “Avacta has since developed the Affimer technology into a robust platform with diverse applications in diagnostics, therapeutics and other fields such as affinity separation.”

Image: iStock/PashaIgnatov

He added key competitive advantages of Affimer reagents are “their high degree of specificity to the target of interest, their robustness and adaptability, and their low cost of manufacture.

“Affimer reagents can be generated quickly, in a matter of a few weeks, to bind a new target with high affinity and specificity and can then be attached to the affinity separation resin using straightforward chemistry. Unlike most proteinaceous binding reagents, Affimer molecules can withstand the harsh cleaning conditions required to re-use the bioseparation columns many times.”

In Avacta’s latest licensing deal, Astrea Bioseparations – formerly Prometic Bioseparations – will use the Affimer tech as an alternative and complementary ligand platform that to broaden the scope of its ligand discovery/adsorbent development offerings.

“The agreement with Avacta means Astrea is now able to offer affinity adsorbent development services with a very high probability of success,” said Astrea CEO Steve Burton.

“When combined with Astrea’s existing and very significant, high quality adsorbent manufacturing capacity and the company’s ability to supply the final product in bulk, in nanofibre membrane format or in pre-packed GMP-ready columns, the deal with Avacta confirms Astrea’s position as a leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of high quality, high performance affinity adsorbents.”

Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed, but support came from Astrea’s owners Gamma, which also provided strategic and legal support on the transaction.

“Gamma Biosciences is fully supportive of this agreement as it provides an almost infinite biochemical space for discovering new high-performance ligands for a variety of modern downstream manufacturing processes, and complements Astrea’s considerable experience in chemical and peptide affinity approaches,” Phil Vanek, CTO at Gamma Biosciences, told us.

“Astrea plans to make Affimer technology a mainstay offering within their affinity repertoire.  New modalities such as viral manufacturing, require not only new, highly customizable affinity molecules, but also the chemical spacers to present them in an appropriate manner, and the novel substrates such as nano-fiber membranes that improve the overall performance of affinity chromatography more generally.”

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