Drug discovery firm e-Therapeutics PLC (LON:ETX) said it has emerged from the first half with “increased enthusiasm and determination” after undergoing something of a transition in the first six months of 2016.
Its former chief executive and founder Malcolm Young, as well as development director Steve Self, stepped down as the company moved its focus more to the discovery side of it operations.
The half saw e-Therapeutics complete the acquisition of internet search engine technology developer Searchbolt for an initial £2.32mln.
The firm also made progress on its two lead compounds, ETS6103, a compound aimed at treating major depressive disease, and ETS2101, a potential cancer treatment.
e-Therapeutics said it will look to out-license both of these programmes at the appropriate time.
“This has been a busy six months which has seen fundamental changes to the business and its strategy,” said chairman Iain Ross.
"We have a world-beating discovery engine with potent and significant programmes in our pipeline. We have a refocused and committed team, a targeted commercial partnership strategy and the support of a strong balance sheet.”
e-Therapeutics had 17 discovery projects at different levels of progress at the end of the period, and undertook a scientific and business review back in July to prioritise its focus.
“We were just trying to do too many things. What we’ve now done is focus down to the projects which we think have the most likelihood of being partnered by big pharma,” added Ross.
As a result of the large number of programmes in progress during the first half, discovery project spend rose to £2.5mln (1H 2015: £0.9mln).
The company has now pinpointed five projects it intends to focus on, as well as five earlier-stage projects which will act like understudies.
Ross told investors: “Our real focus is the discovery engine, those five projects in medicinal chemistry are where the real value of the company is.”
In the six months to the end of July, e-Therapeutics reported a total loss of £7.9mln.
The company finished the period with £19.9mln in cash having burned through £4.9mln, which it is confident will be enough to support the business into 2019.
The company said it is on track to find a replacement for Malcolm Young before the year is out and Ross highlighted what it is the board is looking for.
“I would like to see somebody who is scientifically qualified but who has also worked on the business side of things.”
Shares closed down 15% to 9p.
--Updates for chairman comment and share price--