Dutch biotechnology company Crucell says that its first-quarter net loss has halved to 9 million euros, boosted by a 36% revenue increase to 47.9 million euros.

Growth was driven by sales of its five-shots-in-one Quinvaxem vaccine (for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b) and travel vaccines, notably Epaxal, the only aluminium-free hepatitis A jab and Dukoral, the only oral vaccine against diarrhoea caused by cholera and enterotoxigenic E.coli. The firm also benefited from a partial reversal of a 5.2 million euro impairment taken on its facility in Bern, Switzerland in 2006.

Chief executive Ronald Brus said that during the second quarter, “we will further validate expected savings in 2008, confirming we are on track to achieve the 15% (excluding R&D) cost savings target by the end of 2009”. He reiterated the firm’s guidance that total revenues for 2008 will grow 20%, excluding currency effects, to .

Mr Brus added that Crucell’s rabies monoclonal antibody programme “is clearly on a fast track with a second Phase II study starting today in the Philippines”. Together with the US Phase II trial which started in March, these studies trigger the first milestone payments of a total of up to 66.5 million euros from partner Sanofi Pasteur.

The firm ended the first quarter with cash and equivalents of 121.9 million euros.