BERLIN - The German biotech company Mologen AG, of Berlin, reported higher sales and losses in 1999 and is planning to invest about DM6.3 million this year, mainly for research, development and personnel. Sales were up 26 percent and amounted to DM1.3 million, while losses were DM2.9 million compared to DM1.9 million in 1998.

During a press conference on the company's financial results, Matthias Reichel, designated CFO of Mologen AG, said losses for the period were 32 percent less than expected. He said about two-thirds of the sales revenues had been achieved by Mologen's genetic "Midge" vectors - the company's core business. Midge vectors do not carry helper sequences such as origins of replication, antibiotic resistance or bacterial genes. The technology is secured by seven patent families.

"We are planning to more than double our sales to reach DM3.1 million this year," Reichel said, "but due to increases in personnel and expenditures in research and development, we expect a negative EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) of about DM3 million." He added that sales would come in three business activities: "First, we will sell our vectors to research groups or offer vector development services. We already have advertised very successfully in scientific journals. Second, we are developing vaccines for veterinary medicine, both for pets and domestic animals. These are very lucrative 'finger exercises' for our third business field, the development of vaccines and vectors for human medicine. In this area, we have achieved success much faster than projected."

He added that Mologen's subsidiary company, Soft Gene GmbH, of Berlin, later this year will start sales of its novel software to support the construction of vectors, including documentation assistance for clinical studies and GMP procedures. "We want to start making profits in 2001."

Mologen has established about 30 collaborations, most of them technology or research cooperations with university institutes and clinics. "We have established a couple of cooperations with pharma companies," Burghardt Wittig, CEO, told BioWorld International. "However, such cooperations have ceased to be of great importance to us. We feel strong enough to change our strategy and to address the market ourselves." He said Mologen has two cancer gene therapy products in Phase II/III clinical studies, and a third would begin soon. "In addition, we are in Phase I of testing an antiviral strategy with a partner in the U.S."