Shares in UK biotechnology company Xenova fell more than 11% yesterday, despite positive clinical trial results for its anti-smoking vaccine TA-NIC, amid fears that it would run out of money before its late-stage projects come to fruition.

Xenova trimmed its losses for 2004 to £12.5 million from £15 million in 2003, but also saw its cash reserves dwindle to £13 million from £27.5 million. At its current burn rate, that gives the company just 12 months of operating cash, although Xenova said it is confident that it will raise additional funding during the remainder of 2005.

Revenues from licensing agreements, partnerships and manufacturing outsourcing came in at £4.6 million against £7.7 million a year ago.

TA-NIC, designed to help smokers quit the habit by binding nicotine and preventing it from reaching the brain, showed significantly improved abstention rates compared to a placebo in a 12 month, Phase I study. A Phase II study is due to start this year, with results due in 2006. But while encouraging, this product is still years away from the market, and Xenova’s main product hope is TransMID, a treatment for brain cancer, which is due to reach the market in mid-2007 [[14/08/03b]].

The company said that this drug is now in Phase III trials, with patients being recruited in Europe, the US and other countries. It is scheduled to complete in May, according to the US National Institutes of Health.