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Avacta appoints new head of research and development

(Sharecast News) - Oncology drugs and diagnostics developer Avacta announced the appointment of Dr Christina Coughlin as its new head of research and development for the therapeutics division on Friday. The AIM-traded firm said in the role, Dr Coughlin would oversee all clinical development and pre-clinical research activities within the division.

It said Dr Coughlin, who had served as a non-executive director of Avacta Group since March 2022, had played a crucial role in driving the clinical development strategy for AVA6000, its flagship 'preCISION' tumour-targeted therapy, and the broader drug pipeline strategy.

Her background as an oncologist and immunologist would bring valuable expertise to the company, the board said.

With extensive experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, D. Coughlin previously held leadership roles at companies including Wyeth, Pfizer, Novartis, Immunocore, Tmunity, Rubius, and most recently, Cytolmmune Therapeutics.

She holds an MD and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, and received training in haematology and oncology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr Coughlin would assume her position as head of research and development on 1 February, taking responsibility for all pre-clinical research, clinical development activities, and pipeline strategy within the therapeutics division.

She would also continue to serve on the board, as an executive director.

At the same time, Avacta announced the departure of Dr Fiona McLaughlin from her role as chief scientific officer of the therapeutics division.

Dr McLaughlin had been in the position for three years, and made significant contributions to the division's development and its various programmes.

She would still work with the company during a transitional period as she steps down from her role, the board confirmed.

"Chris brings deep oncology research and development expertise combined with trans-Atlantic C-level experience from which the entire business will benefit as we evolve from a research organisation to one led by a strong clinical focus," said chief executive officer Alastair Smith.

"The outstanding safety data from the AVA6000 clinical study that we recently presented validates the preCISION platform's ability to deliver cancer drugs specifically to the tumour microenvironment."

Dr Smith said that would open up "tremendous opportunities" to develop innovative cancer medicines to improve outcomes for patients and grow shareholder value.

"The board and I would like to thank Fiona for her outstanding contribution over the past few years.

"She has added significant value to the therapeutic programmes and played a key role in building the therapeutic division's operations."

At 1100 GMT, shares in Avacta Group were up 0.48% at 103.99p.

Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.

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