LONDON - Chiroscience Group plc, of Cambridge, last week signaled that it expects to move into overall profit in 2001 as it reported results for the six months ended Aug. 31 showing losses of £11.4 million, down 21 percent from the £14.4 million for the same period in 1997.

The improvement was due to increased sales at Chirotech, the company's chiral manufacturing business, where turnover rose to £6.8 million from £5.9 million and profits to £2.5 million from £2.3 million. There was also an increase in turnover by Chiroscience's drug discovery and development arm to £4.5 million from £3.3 million. Losses in this part of the business fell by more than £5 million, to £11.2 million from £16.4 million, as Chiroscience's partners took over development costs and the company's lead product, Chirocaine, reached the end of its clinical and regulatory program.

Central expenses rose to £2.9 million from £1.7 million, largely as a result of the £1.4 million in exceptional costs arising from the settlement of a legal claim from Nowell Stebbing, a former director.

There was £28.8 million in cash at the end of the six months, and the company has since received £30 million on completion of the sale of 30 percent of Chirotech to the U.K. chemicals and engineering group Ascot plc, leaving Chiroscience with £59 million in its reserves.

John Padfield, CEO, said Chirotech's profits in the first half do not reflect the potential for the full year. “As of Aug. 31, Chirotech had sales orders on hand in excess of £35 million, much of which is scheduled to be filled this financial year,“ he said. “Accordingly, the business is expected to show a profit for the year well in excess of the £7.1 million achieved in the year to Feb. 28, 1998.“ *

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