e-Therapeutics plc (LON:ETX) is making significant progress and is now targeting partners to accelerate the development of its drug discovery engine and commercialise compounds.
Releasing full year results today, the group said by taking the collaborative route, it can reduce development risk and increase the probability of success.
What does the company do?
ETX is a drug discoverer with a proprietary platform based on advances in network pharmacology, an approach which analyses how disease patterns work.
So far, the engine, which is the group's core focus, has identified thousands of new molecules in medical and commercial areas, but it is now focused on discoveries in the immuno-oncology space, currently a buzz area, which is focused on drug resistance to targeted cancer therapies.
It is worth noting, that the firm's platform is generating multiple and potent molecules in this field - more than for conventional drug discovery.
So what has it discovered?
During last year, ETX carried out 12 active projects compared to six the previous year and three of these candidates are being optimised pre-clinically.
These are what's called telomerase inhibitors which are around 1,000 times more potent in killing cancer cells than previous small molecules, a hedgehog pathway (which transmits to embryonic cells) cancer inhibitors, which could potentially address drug resistance to current products.
Another highlight of the year was the generation of potent, broad-spectrum antivirals, which protect against multiple rather than single strains of influenza.
The firm has finished a phase IIb trial on its most advanced candidate for a major depressive disorder - ETS6103 is now complete and results support the target product profile and it is now progressing sets to potentially out-license the drug.
It showed fewer side effects and better tolerance profile than current post-SSRI treatment (a class of drugs often used as first-line antidepressants, such as amitriptyline).
Phase I clinical trials in cancer for flagship candidate ETS2101 are now complete for treating hepatocellular carcinoma and pancreatic cancer and established an acceptable dose for this product candidate and important information about how it would be taken by the patient.
What the chief executive Professor Malcolm Young told Proactive:
About the benefit of the group's drug discovery platform -
"It does it quickly, cheaply, in relative terms and produces really wonderful, exciting molecules."
On commercialising candidates-
"Commercialisation as a focus in the company has really grown in significance over this last year."
On the hunt for potential partners -
"We have assets with very good late stage data (ETS6103 and ETS2101), we have exciting new assets that are exciting enough, that even though they are early stage, we think they can be partnered and we have capability which is in some respects, we believe, world leading, so making alliances with much larger companies is absolutely our focus."
The platform is of potential interest to firms, wishing to generate molecules in certain areas, while the early stage candidates are the sort of thing R&D directors at big pharmas are interested in, he suggested.
On the final results
Unsurprisingly, due to the increased number of projects, discovery spend rose to £4.3mln compared with £2.7mln in the year to January 3 1, 2016.
The group operating loss was £11.6mln versus a loss of £10.2mln the previous year.
The firm ended the year well funded with £24.8mln. It is due an R&D tax credit of £2.5mln for the year.
Shares today added 9.09% to stand at 13.5p.