The UK’s Oxford BioMedica has reported an increase in losses but is confident that a licensing deal will soon be signed for its new cancer treatment Trovax.

Revenues were flat at £800,000 while losses for 2006 climbed 93.4% to £17.6 million, due principally to a 109% leap in R&D costs to £19.5 million. Much of the latter went on the development of its therapeutic cancer vaccine TroVax which began a Phase III trial in renal cancer last November, and the company also has an ongoing Phase II programme for other indications including colorectal and prostate cancer.

Analysts have been waiting for some tome for Oxford BioMedica to sign a licensing deal for Trovax and the company’s chief executive Alan Kingsman said that “following extensive commercial discussions with potential partners…we are now negotiating final contractual terms” and “we hope to conclude a licensing agreement in the near future.” The firm added that the clinical data generated to date places TroVax “amongst the leading cancer immunotherapy candidates in development worldwide” and “the value of the programme continues to increase as more data emerge.” If all goers well, Oxford BioMedica hopes to launch Trovax in 2009.

The firm also noted that a Phase II trial of MetXia as a localised therapy alongside chemotherapy in patients with operable pancreatic cancer is developing “but more slowly than anticipated due to the aggressiveness of the disease and, hence, poor patient recruitment.” It also claimed that during last it made good progress towards the objective of starting clinical trials of ProSavin, for Parkinson’s disease.

A deal for Trovax would provide Oxford BioMedica with a much-needed financial boost as the firm finished 2006 with £28.5 million in cash and equivalents. This should be enough to fund operations, including the Phase III Trovax trial, until the middle of 2008 and the firm does not anticipate having to raise further funds ahead of securing a licensing agreement for the vaccine.