Oxford BioMedica’s share price rose an impressive 22% on the London Stock Exchange this morning after the UK company confirmed that it had been approached by a third party and was holding merger discussions.

An official statement from the firm, which came in response to the rise in its share price that started yesterday, declined to divulge the identity of the potential marriage partner. The company also stressed that discussions are at an early stage and may or may not lead to an ultimate offer.

Industry observers have cast their nets wide, speculating that Oxford BioMedica would be a good match for many European and US companies, whether they already function in similar areas, or are looking to expand into the field of cancer vaccines. The UK company’s advanced colorectal cancer therapy TroVax has completed two Phase II trials [[01/09/04g]], while its second anti-cancer product, MetXia, is being investigated in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. The company, which recorded losses of £6.8 million pounds in the first half of last year, said in September that it had cash reserves of some £26.2 million, which were sufficient to fund the business through to 2007 even in the absence of any other revenue sources [[01/09/04g]].