UK companies Avacta and Glythera have sealed a licensing deal to develop drug conjugates using their combined technologies.

While specifics of the deal have not been disclosed, it was revealed that Avacta stands to receive development milestone payments and royalties on sales of any drug successfully developed by Glythera.

The move follows completion of a proof-of-concept study by the firms which was geared towards showing that Avacta’s Affimer technology could be combined with Glythera’s Permalink conjugation chemistry “to provide a technically superior drug conjugate platform with shorter development times, simpler, more consistent production and greater chemical stability”.

According to Avacta’s website, Affimer reagents and therapeutics are a class of non-antibody binding proteins engineered for a wide range of applications where antibodies and aptamers have limitations. Drug conjugates combine a toxin with a protein such as an antibody or Affimer to target that toxin to the tumor.

The firms said the trial also demonstrated that the Affimer remains functional when the toxic payload has been added, indicating “that the combination of the two technologies has the potential to develop drug conjugate therapies”.

The antibody drug conjugate market is estimated to be worth around $1 billion today from two approved compounds and is expected to be worth $14.6 billion annually by 2030.