UK drug discovery group e-Therapeutics, a spin-off from Newcastle University, has completed its first day of trading on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange, under the epic code ETX.

The company placing of 1,985,075 ordinary shares at 67 pence each has generated funds of £1.33 million (gross); the total issued share capital is 55,710,103 and the market capitalisation will be £37.33 million.

“We are delighted by the response of investors to the flotation of e-Therapeutics,” beamed Professor Malcolm Young, Chief Executive of the group. “The funds raised will enable us to develop and broaden our drug development pipeline, and will significantly raise the profile of e-Therapeutics with potential licensing partners,” he added.

e-Therapeutics is essentially a systems biology drug discovery firm that uses computer technology to predict the intervention of proteins in cells, enabling the “rapid exploration of commercial opportunities”, it claims.

The company’s capabilities can be broadly split into three categories:

- Drug discovery programme, currently focused on novel antimicrobial compounds and anticancer agents, and especially discovering compounds with novel modes of action;

- New Clinical Uses Programme, under which it explores novel clinical uses for existing drugs and for new indications for drug combinations. These processes can be used to develop novel therapies using existing drugs alone or in combination, and extend patent protection; and

- Drug Interaction Programme, whereby e-Therapeutics tools are used to investigate the biological effects of drug combinations, to determine the probability of interactions in target patient populations taking multiple therapies.

De-risking candidates
Commenting on the group’s business strategy, Young told PharmaTimes UK News: “The company primarily uses its discovery platform to discover its own proprietary medicines for its own development pipeline, with licensing as the intended endpoint for each project. However, it is also increasingly de-risking other companies’ candidates for efficacy, tolerance and intellectual risks on a fee-for-service basis.”

And investor interest in the group may be sparked by its rather promising looking mid-stage pipeline, with five candidate drugs scheduled to enter Phase II testing in 2007/8 for skin cancer, asthma, MRSA/C.difficile/VRE, pain and depression. According to e-Therapuetics, these areas have a market potential of more than $80 billion.