Network-driven drug discovery platform helps drug developers expedite discovery process
Danish giant Novo Nordisk using the platform in its search for new diabetes drugs
Two cancer programmes of its own
£almost £6mln in the bank at the end of January
What it does
Finding, testing and developing new drugs is a notoriously expensive process.
e-Therapeutics PLC (LON:ETX) has built a network-driven drug discovery (NDD) platform that harnesses the power of big data and artificial intelligence (AI).
The company’s main claim is that the NDD process allows it to discover new and better drugs in a more efficient and effective way.
Following a strategic review in 2017, the focus is now on commercialisation: securing partners for its platform, discovery and development projects.
Last year it secured its first commercial research collaboration deal for the NDD platform when Novo Nordisk asked to use it as part of its search for new diabetes treatments.
ETX is also working with C4X Discovery, Biorelate and Intellegens, and more collaborations are expected over the next twelve months.
The company also uses its platform to discover its own drugs. It currently has two NDD-derived immuno-oncology programmes in the pipeline, although these are currently playing second fiddle to the NDD platform itself.
How it’s doing
Last month’s annual results revealed a year of significant progress exploiting the potential of ETX’s NDD platform, including its first commercial research collaboration.
That particular tie-up, with the Danish multi-national Novo Nordisk focusing on type-2 diabetes, provided “important validation” of its technology, the company said.
It added that business development activities continued with “a number of discussions progressing on a range of revenue-generating and value-creating deals”.
With much of management’s focus on NDD, the two immuno-oncology programmes have been put on the backburner somewhat, with more money needing to be found to take them forward.
Chairman Iain Ross said his team was looking at “alternative sources of funding”, broader industry partnerships and potentially M&A deals “in order to fully exploit all of [e-Therapeutics’] assets and capabilities”.
The life sciences group said the current partnerships with companies such as C4X Discovery, Biorelate and Intellegens were “delivering”. Meanwhile, in-house work on patient work in breast cancer has yielded “promising results”.
In common with most businesses at this formative stage of development, e-Therapeutics was loss-making. It posted a £5.1mln operating deficit for the 12 months to the end of January as it burned £3.7mln in cash. More importantly, it was sitting on funds of £5.9mln as at the year-end.
What the boss is saying
“In executing our plans, we have managed our cash and resources carefully to nurture our core business and to enable us to continue to offer a range of assets and capabilities to the industry,” said chief executive Ray Barlow.
“We remain focused on our extensive business development efforts and are in a number of detailed discussions with potential partners.
“Confident in the broad versatility and utility of the NDD platform, we remain focused on translating this into value for our shareholders."
What analysts are saying
“In the current challenging financing environment for UK-based life science companies, ETX is firstly conserving resources,” said research house Edison.
“FY19 was the latest in a three-year trend of sequentially declining six-monthly losses and the lowest half-yearly loss since 2012.
“In addition, a range of partnering activities are being explored. These two facets come together with the metered investment in the self-funded NDD-derived assets, the board exploring alternative sources of capital that could include non-dilutive funding and also potentially the earlier partnering and cost-sharing for assets and partnerships that may reduce the long-term upside to ETX, but enable nearer-term value creation.”