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1 Step Backwards For Vaccine Development


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AMSTERDAM, July 18 (Reuters) - Shares in Crucell slipped nine percent on Tuesday after the Dutch biotechnology firm Crucell (CRCL.AS: Quote, Profile, Research)(CRXL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) said it had decided to suspend further clinical development of its vaccine candidate Aerugen.

The result of the Phase III study, the final phase before filing for approval, failed to confirm the efficacy results indicated in earlier clinical study, the company said in a statement.

The suspension will not impact the firm's revenue forecast for this year or its goal to achieve cash break-even in 2007, Crucell said.

The Leiden-based firm, which acquired Swiss vaccine maker Berna Biotech (BBIN.S: Quote, Profile, Research) this year, expects consolidated sales and licence revenue for 2006 to be in the 130 million to 150 million euro ($163 to $188.1 million) range.

Shares in the mid-cap firm traded down 7.86 percent at 14.30 by 0706.

Crucell has focused its antibody discovery group on infectious diseases after ending its oncology programme in 2003.

Its PER.C6 gene technology uses human cells as a platform to produce drugs, which researchers are also using to help in developing vaccines against illnesses such as HIV and cancer.

Aerugen is a vaccine candidate for the prevention of pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, Crucell said.

CF is a life-threatening disease caused by a defective gene that leads to altered body fluid secretion by certain glands.

Abnormally thick, sticky mucus develops, clogging the lungs and potentially resulting in fatal lung infections.


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