Progress accelerates at Newcastle drug discovery firm E-therapeutics

The AIM-listed firm said operating losses have widened to £10.175m but that it is making progress, both clinically and in discovery

Professor Malcolm Young, chief executive of e-Therapeutics
Professor Malcolm Young, chief executive of e-Therapeutics

Directors at North East drug development company e-Therapeutics expect to make major advancements in the coming 12 months after beefing up research and development spend to more than £8m in its last financial year.

Full-year results show the Newcastle University spin-out increased its R&D spend by 60%, from £5.367m to £8.549m, in the year ended January 31 2015, as progress accelerates both clinically and in drug discovery.

The Newcastle-based business said operating losses widened from £6.719m to £10.175m in the year ended January 31 2015 and that cash and liquid resources stand at £33.8m, down on the previous period’s £43.1m, reflecting the increasing levels of research spend.

The company, which also has a lab in Oxford, now anticipates an R&D tax credit worth £2m – almost double last year’s £1.1m – due to increases in both R&D spend and the claimable rate of the R&D tax credit.

Looking ahead, the firm said increases in spend within both its discovery and development platforms are anticipated, as the number and scope of discovery projects also increases.

The AIM-listed firm, is currently involved in trials for two of its drugs, a cancer drug and ETS6103, a drug for major depressive disorder.

Its lead cancer drug, ETS2101, was being trialled in the UK and US in a variety of solid tumour and brain cancer patients, and UK phase 1a of the trials have established a maximum tolerated dose.

As a result, the first of the phase Ib studies is due to be rolled out to start mid-April, involving more than 800 patients in 15 locations across the UK, Spain, Germany and Poland.

Meanwhile, in the US, a brain cancer trial involving 24 patients is ongoing, with the US patients experiencing similar short-term side effects to those observed in the UK trial, and preliminary test results are due in the first half of 2015.

Potential opportunities for a further drug, ETX1153c, which is active against the bacterial infection C.difficile, are also being explored.

To feed its internal development pipeline the business has also accelerated discovery projects in the last financial year and it intends to have analysed 10 or more discovery projects by the end of the current financial year.

Prof Malcolm Young, CEO of e-Therapeutics who is also acting chairman, said: “The past 12 months have seen a strong acceleration of progress, both clinically and in discovery.

“In the clinic, we have had four clinical trials ongoing in Europe and the US. We have had positive dosing and safety results for our lead product, ETS2101 and we are moving into the next phase of testing in two cancer indications.

“We have also seen good progress with ETS6103 and anticipate the completion of its phase IIb later this year.

“Most exciting has been the striking productivity of our drug discovery engine. The investment and enhancements we have made over the past two years are paying dividends, not only with the number of molecules we can now screen, but in the groundbreaking yields we are observing.

“We have a wealth of active molecules to choose from to take forward into development.

“The combination of these successes in 2014/15 with a strong balance sheet heralds another 12 months of major advancement and progress.”

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