DRUG discovery and development business e-Therapeutics’ insisted yesterday it was making “significant progress” despite seeing its half-year losses widen.
The Newcastle-based, AIM-listed business made a net loss of £1.8m for the six months to the end of July, compared to £1.5m in the same period last year.
But the Newcastle University spin-out company said it had made significant investment in the business and has a strong balance sheet.
It has started clinical trials in the UK and US for a cancer drug which is currently the company’s most important product and it expects the first data from them before the end of 2012. The UK trials are taking place at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
Chief executive Prof Malcolm Young said: “This has been another period of significant progress. In the past six months we have advanced our most important product, the cancer drug ETS2101, into two phase I trials.
“We have also continued to re-shape our drug pipeline, with a clear determination to focus investment into the most promising assets in our discovery and development portfolios.
“We now look forward to some major clinical milestones and to new outputs from our unique drug discovery platform in network pharmacology.”
Although some information is expected from the two studies before the end of this year, the trials will not be complete until 2013 and 2014. The drugs will then be taken forward to the next set of tests in the protracted business of gaining approval for use by the medical profession.
Prof Young said: “We do have a significant balance sheet – £12m to deliver all we’ve set out until mid-2014, when we’d expect to have results.”
The company is aiming to bring in revenues by linking up with larger pharmaceutical groups for later stage trials. E-Therapeutics finance director, Daniel Elger, said: “We carry out mid-stage trials then partner bigger companies that will get them to market. By the second quarter of 2014, we are certainly going to be heading into the zone where partnerships will become realistic.”
He said there was also the possibility of attracting partners at an earlier stage on the drug discovery side but it was impossible to predict if and when this might happen. Elger said: “We could do collaborations with larger companies, but they could happen any time.”
And he insisted that the company is in a strong position.
“We have the cash resources to take all aspects of the business forward,” said Elger. “We have raised money a number of times. In early 2011, we raised nearly £17m from investors.”
Shares in the company closed the day down 1.32% at 37.2p.