UK drug discovery and development group E-therapeutics has terminated development of its experimental MRSA candidate ETX1153a.

While the scientific case for ETX1153a remains, the company said it has decided not to pursue clinical development of the drug for commercial reasons.

Preclinical work on the medicine has been completed, predicting activity across a range of MRSA strains and a good resistance profile, the firm said in an interim statement published yesterday (Monday).

But “practical issues in its development would mean that there was a better likely return on investment from other areas. That’s in spite of the fact that, from a scientific point of view, it had some real merit,” Daniel Elger, finance director of E-Therapeutics, told the Financial Times.

The move means that the group can give even greater focus to its flagship cancer drug ETS2101, which is currently in two Phase I trials in brain cancer and solid tumours, and its antidepressant ETS6103, which is progressing to Phase IIb.

Meanwhile, the firm posted an operating loss of £2.3 million for the six-month period, up from £1.8 million a year ago.

The first half was closed with cash of £11.7 million in its back pocket which, the firms said, is enough to fund all priority programmes until mid 2014.