A Northern Ireland pharma company which has started work on antibody research to treat Covid-19 has revealed a 79% jump in revenues to £3.9m.
But Fusion Antibodies plc, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market, ultimately made a loss of £0.7m in the year to the end of March, it announced on Wednesday.
However, the loss was down on the previous year’s £1.3m deficit.
The listed company, based at Springbank Industrial Estate in Belfast, specialises in pre-clinical antibody discovery, engineering and supply.
Company chairman Dr Simon Douglas said the loss was down to its strategy to invest for growth. Staff numbers have grown from 38 to 47.
It has also raised revenues as it rolls out its Rational Affinity Maturation Platform (RAMP), which it says can improve the structure and performance of antibody based drugs.
Since the year-end the company has also raised £3m in equity.
It’s also worked on a Covid-19 programme as part of its Mammalian Antibody Library Development Plan, to help clients who are working towards solutions for the virus.
Chief executive Dr Paul Kerr said: “We have had a strong year with the increased revenue performance in the first and second half driven by the expansion of our existing services and newly introduced RAMP.
“The company has also seen strong geographical growth in the 2020 financial year with the appointment of two new distributors in Asia as well carrying out a RAMP project for a large indigenous company in China.
“While Covid-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty for the 2021 financial year, trading so far has been in line with expectations and the £3.0m fundraise in April has allowed Fusion to expand the existing proof-of-concept work on the Mammalian Antibody Library to include Covid-19 as a new target.
“We are positive about the next 12 months and are grateful to our shareholders for their continued support.”
Dr Douglas said the outbreak of the virus was an opportunity to test its mammalian antibody library development plan “in a real-world setting against an unmet and critical medical need”.
“In addition to vaccines, effective treatments, both prophylactic and therapeutic drugs will be required to produce a long-term solution for this disease and a neutralising antibody against Covid-19 could be one of the solutions in the control of the virus.
“In addition to validating the library in readiness for commercialisation there is the longer-term potential to out-licence successfully produced human antibodies to Covid-19 to commercial partners for further development.”
The chairman said the company, which is based in Belfast, had responded quickly to the pandemic. “The company was able to swiftly put procedures in place to maintain and protect our laboratory services through a combination of remote working for desk-based staff and staggered working hours for those working in a laboratory.”
And he said that trading post-year end had been in line with expectations.
But he added: “There continues to be considerable uncertainty around the world as countries ease or increase restrictions to manage the global Covid-19 pandemic. Working with an international customer base presents opportunities and challenges as governments and companies respond to the immediate crisis and plan for a way forward in new circumstances.”
In a note, broker and adviser Allenby Capital said: “Fusion Antibodies is building on its established expertise in core areas.
“The mammalian antibody library can enable FAB to target much higher value markets once established.
“While markets clearly remain volatile, new technology plus the continuing significance and versatility of antibodies in developing healthcare solutions (including for Covid) play a central role in future growth opportunities for the company.”
Along with First Derivatives and Diaceutics, Fusion Antibodies is one of three Northern Ireland-based firms listed on the AIM.
IT firm Kainos is listed on the main London Stock Exchange.