Celltech research cutbacks claim 130 jobs

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The Independent Online

Celltech is to shed 130 jobs as it gives up on very early-stage drug research.

The UK's largest biotechnology group is shutting a science laboratory in the United States, as well as the proteomics business it acquired as part of Oxford GlycoSciences and has since failed to sell.

Goran Ando, the chief executive, said the closures would free resources for development work on potential new drugs. "Our early stage pipeline is looking very exciting," he said. "We will have entered four products into clinical development during 2003. We believe by focusing resources on research and early development we will maximise the future returns for shareholders."

The US site to be closed is in Seattle and employs 90 people. Scientists there have been looking for genes, proteins and chemicals in the body that might be linked to disease, and which could be targeted by potential new drugs. The laboratory was acquired in 1999 through the merger with ChiroScience. Its work with Amgen, the US biotech giant, to find an osteoporosis treatment will be shifted to Slough.

Celltech said yesterday that two potential bidders for the OGS proteomics business - which is employed by other drug firms to look for human proteins associated with disease - had walked away. It will now close the division with the loss of 40 jobs.

Dr Ando said the proteomics division redundancies could be met out of cash already in the group. The Seattle closure will cost £5.5m, and will free £11.5m of annual spending.