Drug firm in talks with backers

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The Independent Online
CHIROSCIENCE, the drug development company that came to the stock market three months ago, is in discussions with potential partners interested in backing future work on the firm's local anaesthetic.

Chiroscience has recently completed early stage tests on levobupivacaine which, according to John Padfield, its chief executive, suggest that it has a threefold safety margin over bupivacaine, the existing drug.

Dr Padfield said: 'It's not surprising there's a number of people around the world who want to talk to us about being a partner.' He expected to reach an agreement on future collaboration 'sooner rather than later'.

Chiroscience hopes this summer to start phase 2 testing on levobupivacaine, to examine its efficacy.

The company is an expert in chirality - the phenomenon whereby different isomers of the same molecular compound have different medical effects. Many drugs contain both isomers, even though one of them may be inactive or responsible for side effects. By isolating single isomers, Chiroscience hopes to develop safer and more efficient drugs.

The company said its new chemical entity programme was developing rapidly, and it has identified four lead compounds.

Chiroscience's first results since flotation showed a loss of pounds 4.3m for the year to end February, compared with a loss of pounds 1.2m the year before.

The loss, which reflects research and development spending of pounds 3.7m, was in line with expectations, the company said.

After raising money in its flotation, Chiroscience has pounds 39m in cash and securities. Sales last year rose from pounds 1.6m to pounds 1.95m. Chiroscience hopes to generate substantial sales through an agreement with Menarini, the Italian drug company.

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