Avacta brings in clinical consultant as it hunts for permanent CMO
Oncology-focussed life science company Avacta Group announced a new consultancy pact with Dr Christina Coughlin on Tuesday.
The AIM-traded firm said that while Dr Coughlin already served as a non-executive director, the new agreement was for a temporary role ahead of its intent to onboard a full-time chief medical officer (CMO).
It came in the wake of robust clinical outcomes of AVA6000, underlining the tumour-targeting capacity of Avacta's preCISION platform.
The breakthrough expanded the commercial potential and emphasised the possibility of introducing a series of new tumour-specific cancer treatments.
Thus, pursuing a CMO was now a strategic goal to steer the company's clinical direction, amalgamating in-house progress with commercial partnerships.
Avacta said Dr Coughlin, an accomplished clinical oncologist, had an expansive portfolio in biotechnology, international pharmaceuticals, and a holistic proficiency in drug development.
Her past stints included serving as the CEO of Cytolmmune Therapeutics, focusing on pioneering cancer immunotherapy products.
Additionally, she was pivotal as the chief medical officer for Rubius Therapeutics and Tmunity Therapeutics, guiding their clinical advancements.
Her association with Avacta as a non-executive director would remain unchanged.
In another update, Avacta revealed that chief development officer Neil Bell was set to exit the firm.
Under Bell's three-year stewardship, Avacta had set up a solid clinical development framework expected to bolster its future clinical initiatives.
The consultancy deal with Dr Coughlin would entail a monthly payment of $15,000, covering an initial span of six months.
However, the agreement would leave room for an extension, stretching up to 12 months, capping the total fee at $180,000, subject to mutual consent.
“The board and I would like to thank Neil for his hard work over the past few years in taking our first programme into the clinic,” said chief executive officer Dr Alastair Smith.
“We are now moving from a phase of building our clinical development capabilities to leveraging that capacity across multiple programmes.”
Therefore, Dr Smith said it was appropriate that the firm transitioned the senior leadership team to incorporate medical oncology experience.
“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to benefit in the near term from Christina's immense experience during this exciting period as we seek to appoint a full-time chief medical officer.”
At 1137 BST, shares in Avacta Group were down 1.81% at 127.65p.
Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.