Swedish drug discovery company Karo Bio has trimmed its losses down to SEK18.1 million (€2m) in the second quarter of 2003 from SEK79.7 million a year earlier. The company ended the period with cash and equivalents of SEK274 million.
Revenues at the firm rose 30 per cent to SEK50.8 million, helped by the payment of a second milestone by Merck & Co in the two firms' collaboration to find drugs that can selectively target the two known forms of the oestrogen receptor (alpha and beta).
Karo Bio and Merck started their collaboration based on the identification of the oestrogen beta receptor in 1997, and the project is still in the preclinical phase of development.
Meantime, Karo Bio has reported progress in its in-house prostate cancer programme, as well as in a partnered project with Bristol-Myers Squibb.
The drug discovery phase of Karo Bio's collaboration with B-MS to develop orally active and selective thyroid hormone receptor modulators for obesity and metabolic syndrome has been completed. A lead compound has been identified that in animal studies achieves significant weight loss and reduces serum cholesterol, and a number of analogues are being assessed for clinical studies.
Promising animal data was also generated in Karo Bio's androgen receptor programme, and the company said it has identified a series of compounds to move into lead optimisation.