Eiffel restructuring leads to modest half-year

By Tanya Hollis
Wednesday, 13 March, 2002

Bioengineering group Eiffel Technologies (ASX: EIF) has posted a more than three per cent fall in after-tax profits to $777,000 for the second half of last year.

The Melbourne company, which is restructuring after its previous incarnation as a contract manufacturer, also revealed a revenue slide of almost 98 per cent to $156,000.

Director Christine Cussen said the figures simply reflected a company in transition that was currently incurring only expenses.

"Historically the company was predominantly a contract manufacturer and that is changing to biotechnology and bioengineering," Cussen said.

"We're taking technology licensed from the University of NSW and commercialising it, so the majority of the figures would be retrospective in talking about the manufacturing business."

Eiffel, previously known as PharmAction Holdings, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1996 almost 10 years after it formed.

In 2000, the company bought eight patented supercritical fluid (SCF) drug delivery technology platforms from the University of NSW's Supercritical Fluid Research Facilities.

Supercritical fluids exert a pressure that can dissolve compounds, enabling extraction, fractionation and purification of chemicals, pharmaceuticals and polymers, leaving them free from carry-over solvent.

Eiffel says this property enables it to reduce the particle size of proteins and drugs to sub-micron level, with the potential for alternate drug delivery systems that maintain the drug's original activity.

Through a joint venture with Phytotherapy Technology, Eiffel's technology consortium - named Eiffel Research and Development - are developing and commercialising these technology platforms.

According to the company, commercialisation opportunities for re-engineering old drugs are significant because up to 40 per cent existing drugs have low bioavailability and formulation difficulties.

It says a benefit of Eiffel's work is that it is involved in late-stage drug development rather than early-stage drug discovery, with pharmaceutical collaborations expected to generate revenues earlier for the company than for a traditional drug discovery company.

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