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Abzena PLC

Abzena (AIM: ABZA) provides proprietary technologies and complementary services to enable the development and manufacture of biopharmaceutical products, a growing area that requires specialist knowledge and expertise. The Group has a global customer base which includes the majority of the top 20 biopharmaceutical companies as well as large and small biotech companies and academic...

Market: AIM:ABZA
Sector: Pharma & Biotech
Website: www.abzena.com
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Abzena PLC Snapshot

Abzena is a life sciences group with its headquarters in the UK and two sites in the US. Abzena offers a range of complementary services and technologies for the selection, development and manufacture of biopharmaceuticals, products based on antibodies or other proteins.

Working with companies and academic groups all over the world, including most of the top 20 biopharmaceutical companies, Abzena supports the development and manufacture of better treatments for patients. Eleven antibodies which have been created using Abzena’s technologies (ABZENA inside products) are currently being progressed through clinical development by our licensees. More information on our ABZENA inside products is available here.

Abzena was created through the incorporation of Antitope, PacificGMP, PolyTherics, The Chemistry Research Solution (TCRS) and Warwick Effect Polymers, all of which now trade as Abzena. More on our history here.

Abzena’s range of services and technologies include:

Antibody discovery and candidate screening

Immunology and immunogenicity assessment

Antibody and protein engineering to reduce immunogenicity

Bioconjugation to produce antibody drug conjugates and optimise pharmacokinetics

Custom synthesis of cytotoxic payloads, reagents and other small molecules

Manufacture of payload linkers and antibody drug conjugates

Development of manufacturing cell lines and process development

Manufacture of biopharmaceuticals for Phase I and II clinical studies

Abzena offers a suite of services and technologies to enable its customers to develop better biopharmaceuticals.

Immunogenicity assessment

Therapeutic antibodies and proteins can induce an immune response in patients leading to the development of anti-drug antibodies (ADAs). These potentially lead to reduced efficacy through rapid clearance or neutralisation of the drug or toxicity due to cross-reaction with proteins in the body[1]. Although the potential for immunogenicity of therapeutic antibodies and proteins has been significantly reduced through the application of protein engineering technologies, clinical data shows that many biopharmaceuticals still induce an immune response in patients and therefore remains a concern for companies developing new products and for the regulatory agencies asked to approve their use.

For more information please click here


Antibody Discovery

The biopharmaceutical development process starts with target identification and antibody discovery. Abzena offers multiple approaches to antibody discovery and the isolation, development and selection of lead antibodies.

Phage display technology, using naïve and immune libraries (from a variety of species, including llamas), can be used to identify lead candidates against a vast range of targets, including:


Ion channels


Growth Factors/Receptors
TNF superfamily receptors and ligands

Blood proteins
Brain neurology targets

Tumour biomarkers

Cytokines and receptors


Toxins Virus

T cell activators, ligands and receptors Checkpoint modulators

Non protein targets

For more information, please click here



Antibody & Protein Engineering


Composite protein and antibody engineering technologies combine the best attributes of deimmunisation and humanization techniques to minimise the immunogenic potential of biopharmaceutical product candidates before they enter clinical development. An immune response can lead to the development of anti-drug antibodies (ADAs) which can reduce efficacy, through the rapid clearance or neutralization of the protein or antibody, and potentially cause toxicity by cross-reacting with other proteins in the body.

Humanized antibodies and deimmunised proteins are designed to be devoid of the T cell epitopes that lead to an adverse immune response while minimising the loss of antibody affinity or protein activity that can occur with standard protein engineering techniques.

For more information please click here


Cell line development

High-expressing mammalian cell lines are generated for the production of specific partner antibodies and proteins and those designed using Composite Human Antibody™ or Composite Protein™, our humanization and deimmunisation technologies. Cell lines are typically developed using Composite CHO™ (Chinese Hamster Ovary), NS0 or Sp2/0 (mouse myeloma) cells, as well as other cell lines suitable for commercial manufacture. All cell lines have been used for the development of novel biologics and/or biosimilars. Manufacturing cell lines can be transferred to your own manufacturing facility or directly to your preferred contract manufacturing organisation (CMO).

For more information please click here


Antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) are designed to precisely deliver drugs to the sites of disease and have found clinical success in oncology by  killing cancer cells selectively with cytotoxic drugs.  ADCs are made up of three main components: an antibody which targets the site of the disease, a drug, and a chemical linker to conjugate the drug to the antibody. The antibody carrying the drug is designed to bind to antigens on the surface of cells and then be internalized. Once inside the cell the drug is released from the ADC and, in the case of treatment for cancer, kills the cell. Targeting disease in this way with ADCs can minimise the side effects that patients experience by limiting damage to healthy cells.

For more information, please click here


Abzena provides comprehensive chemistry services to pharmaceutical, biotech and agrochemical companies as well as governmental and academic research institutes. We have a strong background in synthetic organic chemistry and extensive experience of custom synthesis.

For more information, please click here

Ken Cunningham - Chairman, Abzena plc

Ken Cunningham has over 25 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He is currently Non-Executive Director of Sunergos Innovations Ltd and Verona Pharma plc. Previously he was Chief Executive Officer of SkyePharma plc and before that he was Chief Executive Officer of Arakis Ltd, Vice-President European Affairs at Alza Corporation and Vice-President Clinical Development at Sequus Inc. Earlier in his career he held a variety of clinical development and commercial strategy roles at GlaxoWellcome plc and Warner-Lambert. He holds a Medical Degree from St Mary's, Imperial College, London University.

John Burt - Chief Executive Officer, Abzena plc

John joined PolyTherics in November 2010, initially as Chief Business Officer, before becoming CEO in May 2011. Following the acquisition of Antitope and creation of Abzena, he is the Chief Executive Officer of the Group.

In 2004 John co-founded Thiakis, with Professor Sir Steve Bloom (Imperial College), which John led as Chief Executive Officer through to its successful acquisition by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in December 2008. Previously, John held a range of roles covering finance, technology, licensing and business and corporate development roles with Vanguard Medica plc (now part of Vernalis plc), Glaxo Wellcome plc, GlaxoSmithKline and Imperial Innovations Group plc.

John gained a DPhil (molecular biology) from University of Oxford, following his first degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

Julian Smith - Chief Financial Officer, Abzena plc

Julian joined PolyTherics as Chief Financial Officer and director in September 2013. He was most recently the Chief Financial and Operations Officer at Imperial Innovations Group plc, where in 2006 he managed its listing on AIM.
Prior to Imperial Innovations Group plc, Julian was the Chief Financial Officer of RadioScape Limited and Group Financial Controller of Mobile Systems International Limited. Julian is a Chartered Accountant and has an MA in engineering science from Oxford University.

Tony Brampton - Non-Executive Director, Abzena plc

Partner, Longbow Capital

Tony was previously Managing Director, Corporate Finance at J P Morgan Cazenove, with responsibility for healthcare. During the period 1994-2006 he was actively involved in numerous IPOs, follow on fund raisings, and mergers and acquisitions. He has a BA and MSc in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford. He is a partner at Longbow Capital LLP and a Non-Executive Director of Polar Capital Global Healthcare Growth and Income Trust plc and Domainex Limited.

Nigel Pitchford - Non-Executive Director, Abzena plc

Chief Investment Officer, Imperial Innovations

Nigel is the Chief Investment Officer for Imperial Innovations Group plc, and is responsible for all of the Group’s investment activities. He joined Imperial Innovations Group plc in January 2012. He was previously a Partner at DFJ Esprit, and prior to that spent 12 years at 3i Group, becoming a Partner in 2006, and ultimately leading the venture team's healthcare activities across Europe and the US.

Nigel sits on the boards of Imperial Innovations, Veryan Medical and Epsilon 3 Bio. He studied Chemistry at the University of Oxford, before completing a PhD at the University of Durham.

Peter Grant - Non-Executive Director, Abzena plc

Peter was Chief Executive Officer of Skyepharma PLC from January 2012 to June 2016, when the company merged with Vectura Group plc. He joined Skyepharma as Chief Financial Officer in November 2006.

Previously Peter was Interim Chief Executive Officer of Voice Commerce Group, Group Finance Director at Eurodis Electron plc, Chief Financial Officer at WorldPay plc and Group Finance Director then Group Chief Executive at Molins plc. Prior to this Peter held a variety of senior commercial, financial and general management roles in the General Electric Company plc group of companies. He was previously a Non-Executive Director of ShipServ, Inc. He holds an MA in Mathematics from the University of Oxford and is a Chartered Accountant.

For information on the management team, please click here


Major Shareholders

Abzena has been notified or is aware of the following holdings of 3% or more of the issued share.

Invesco Asset Management Limited – 26.2%

Woodford Investment Management LLP – 22.9%

Imperial Innovations – 19.7%

Baillie Gifford & Co – 3.3%

Information correct as at 24 January 2017

Abzena plc - Cambridge

Babraham Research Campus


Cambridge CB22 3AT

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 1223903498

[email protected]

Nominated advisers and brokers


Numis Securities Limited

London Stock Exchange Building
10 Paternoster Square
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 20 7260 1000

Joint broker

N+1 Singer

1 Bartholomew Lane
London EC2N 2AX
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 20 7496 3000


Financial Public Relations (UK)

Instinctif Partners

65 Gresham Street



United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7457 2020



Pinsent Masons LLP

30 Crown Place

London EC2A 4ES

United Kingdom


Theobald Associates

16 St Martin’s le Grand

St Paul’s

London EC1A 4EN

United Kingdom



James Cowper LLP

2 Chawley Park

Cumnor Hill

Oxford OX2 9GG

United Kingdom



SLC Registrars

42-50 Hersham Road


Surrey KT12 1RZ

United Kingdom

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