British Bio confident

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BRITISH Bio-technology, which last week began second-phase testing of its Aids treatment, said it was 'a few million pounds' ahead of budget in making an interim loss of pounds 4.7m, writes Paul Durman.

The company, the UK's only listed bio-technology group, expects a larger second-half loss as it incurs the costs of further tests on its products. Besides the trials on the anti-Aids vaccine at St Mary's Hospital in London, its cancer and asthma drugs will also begin new tests soon.

The loss of pounds 4.7m in the six months to 31 October was a pounds 1m improvement on last year. James Noble, finance director, said the company was helped by the pounds 897,000 contribution from Glaxo towards testing its asthma treatment, BB-882.

Mr Noble said British Bio-technology was 'absolutely delighted' with the results of the initial testing of BB-882. The drug, which is administered in capsule form, is well tolerated and appears to offer lasting benefits.

After testing its products on healthy volunteers this year, the company is moving towards tests on affected patients. The Aids vaccine, p24- VLP, is the first to have reached this stage.

British Bio-technology raised pounds 30m when it came to the market in July and has pounds 55m on deposit.