LONDON ¿ Cantab Pharmaceuticals plc demonstrated just how lumpy revenues can be in biotechnology, when it reported earnings almost halved for the year ending Dec. 31, 1998 at #3.9 million (US$6.3 million), down from #7.7 million for 1997.

In both years, the money was earned mostly under the company¿s deal with Glaxo Wellcome plc, of London, for Disc HSV, an immunotherapeutic for genital herpes.

As a result, Cantab, which is based in Cambridge, U.K., reported a loss of #7.2 million in 1998, compared to #3.2 million in 1997. Expenditure was steady at #13.8 million, from #13.7 million in 1997. There was #31.2 million in cash at the year end, down from #41.8 million on December 31, 1997.

Target Second Half Of Year For New Trials

The company completed a 182-subject, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase I trial of the genital herpes vaccine, Disc HSV, which showed it stimulated an immune response, with the strongest response in subjects with no previous exposure to the herpes simplex virus. In collaboration with Glaxo, it is planned to move into Phase II in the second half of 1999.

TA-GW for genital warts, being developed with SmithKline, is also due to go into Phase II in the second half of the year. A further Phase II of TA-HPV for the treatment of cervical cancer is also planned to start later this year. This follows a 29-patient, open-label Phase II study, presented last month, in which the immunological endpoint was exceeded. ¿ Nuala Moran