Castrators cut down Proteus results

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The Independent Online
PROTEUS, the USM-quoted biotechnology company, reported a pre-tax loss of pounds 2.73m for the six months to September, compared with an interim loss of pounds 1.21m the previous year, writes Diane Coyle.

The weaker result was due to the expansion of the company's product development programme last year. According to Kevin Gilmore, executive chairman, spending will now level off.

Proteus has two animal health products in preliminary veterinary trials. The first, a chemical castrator for cats, could reach the market soon, followed about a year later by the doggy version.

Proteus hopes to have 10 human and animal products in the first stage of clinical trials by the end of the year. Two more start next month. However, it will be at least five years before any of its products for humans have passed through all the regulatory hoops to reach the market.

The company has recently formed joint ventures with Medeva and American Home Products Corporation. These much bigger partners will take responsibility for the regulatory approval and marketing of Proteus discoveries - vaccines for hepatitis B and C in the former case, and animal health products in the latter. Mr Gilmore said: 'We will seek a whole range of joint venture partners.'

The share price closed 19p down at 423p.