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25 October, 2006 - 14:51 By Staff Reporter

Abcam to build new £3.5m lab in Cambridge

Research products company, Abcam is to build a new £3.5m Cambridge lab as it seeks to expand the number of antibodies it produces in-house.

The AIM-listed company announced in a positive trading update that it would be building a new 20,000 sq ft laboratory in the city.

Abcam's chairman, David Cleevely, better known as a telecoms entrepreneur, said that the antibody characterisation and purification lab would be able to identify and produce in-house between 25,000 and 50,000 different antibodies within the next 6 years, boosting annual sales by between £20m and £30m. The company's sales in the year to 30 June 2006 were £19.4m.

Cleevely explained the rationale: "Abcam has been steadily increasing its expertise in in-house production resulting in the company's own antibodies now contributing around 15per cent of turnover.

“The gross margin on in-house produced antibodies is significantly higher than that for antibodies sourced via suppliers and the exclusive ownership positions the company to exploit any diagnostic or therapeutic applications in the medium to long term.”

Abcam said that funding for the new premises, which is planned to be located in leased premises in the Cambridge area, will come from its existing cash balances, with £3.5m being required for capital expenditure and up to a further £4.5m for working capital.

The new facility is expected to be profitable towards the end of 2008, and cash flow positive towards the end of 2009, the company said.

Updating the market on the company's trading, Cleevely said: “Trading in the current year has begun extremely well, reflected by sales in the first quarter being up 44 per cent compared with the first quarter of last year, and gross margins have been maintained.”

Antibodies are proteins produced by white blood cells in response to the introduction of a foreign body known as an antigen. Antibodies, which have a wide variety of uses in research, diagnostics and therapeutics, are used by bioscientists in research into disease and into the human genome, where they are used to mark and identify specific cells and other living matter. The number of human antibodies of use in research is potentially greater than one million.

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