University spin-outs join forces in £1.5 million acquisition


University of Leeds spin-out company Avacta, has acquired fellow Leeds spin-out - Aptuscan, in a deal worth £1.5 million.

Avacta has simultaneously raised £5 million to provide the working capital for Aptuscan and other new product development initiatives.

Avacta is a leading life sciences and healthcare technology company, providing high-end analytical instrumentation, consumables, reagents and services to the biopharmaceutical sector and the veterinary diagnostics market. It was spun out of the University in 2004.

The company took the decision to acquire Aptuscan because of its innovative and unique engineered protein scaffold technology that could provide the diagnostic and biopharmaceutical industry with a robust, next generation alternative to antibodies. Antibodies are the mainstay of the diagnostic industry, and are used in almost every life science lab to test and visualise proteins - the biological building blocks of life. Aptuscan's 'affinity protein scaffold', mimics the behaviour of antibodies, but is much smaller, tougher and simpler to produce.

The protein scaffolds can also be modified easily, to allow binding with a wide range of different molecules.

Aptuscan's scaffold technology will be commercialised by Avacta under the brand name 'Affimer'.

Dr Paul Ko Ferrigno, Founder of Aptuscan and Senior Lecturer at the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, part of the University of Leeds' School of Medicine, commented:

"This is a terrific opportunity to take to market a technology that should change the way that scientists identify and study the proteins that are the workhorses of life at the molecular level. Just as importantly, the technology should have a real impact on personalized healthcare, and I am relishing the excitement of working with a company that has been successful in animal health as they enter the human healthcare arena."

He added: "The deal was largely facilitated by the open philosophy that Leeds has towards innovation, the support I have received at all levels here, and most importantly the very strong links between the University and IP Group, whose financial and business support really allowed me to get on with the business of delivering the technology to a commercial stage."

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University of Leeds

The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed the University of Leeds to be the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse. The University is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015.

The University of Leeds is acclaimed for the quality of its teaching and research. One of the largest universities in the UK, Leeds is also the most popular among students applying for undergraduate courses. An emphasis on innovative research and investment in high-quality facilities and first-rate infrastructure means that no fewer than 35 departments are rated internationally or nationally 'excellent'.

For more information on the companies involved see: