UK biotechnology company, Acambis, unveiled widening losses for the first quarter of 2005 yesterday – with revenues dropping to £6.0 million from £8.8 million and pre-tax losses widening £4 million to £5.8 million.

However, the firm said it had delivered “good progress” towards strategic goals and its share price closed up marginally on the London Stock Exchange. Key highlights during the quarter were positive Phase I results for a second-generation smallpox vaccine – codenamed MVA3000 – with proposals for a US government stockpiling contract expected shortly. Other pipeline advances include the completion of a bridging trial for ChimeriVax-JE in Japanese encephalitis, positive Phase I data from a study of ChimeriVax-West Nile and the initiation over the next few weeks of a Phase I trial of its vaccine for Clostridium difficile.

Furthermore, Acambis revealed that it has acquired a new facility with lyophilisation and fill/finish capabilities in the USA for $7.5 million, which it says marks a “significant step towards achieving our strategic goals” because, worldwide, Good Manufacturing

Practice capacity for lyophilisation, filling and finishing live, viral vaccines is increasingly limited. It will pay $3 million up front and a further $4.5 million in installments between 2006 and 2017.

Gordon Cameron, Chief Executive Officer of Acambis, commented: “Revenues in the period reflected the existing ACAM2000 US Government contract nearing its successful completion. We anticipate a busy period of newsflow through the second half of the year. In particular we look forward to hearing back from the US Government on our warm-base manufacturing proposal and the anticipated contract to supply MVA smallpox vaccine."