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Rex Bionics widens full-year loss as commercialisation costs rise

Rex Bionics Plc, the New Zealand company listed on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market, said higher costs to commercialise its robotic exoskeletons widened its full-year loss to 3.56 million pounds from 480,000 pounds a year earlier.

The London-based company, whose exoskeletons allows wheelchair-bound people to walk, has changed its reporting date to March 31 from Nov. 30 but has released unaudited results for the 12 months ended Nov. 30 that include, for the first time, the results of its two subsidiaries in New Zealand and Australia. It will release final, audited results for the 16 months ending March 31 in May.

Rex Bionic's shares recently traded at 67.5 pounds, having almost halved in value in December after the company warned that commercial sales would take longer than expected to eventuate. In a market update with the release of its results, the company reiterated that it expects only nominal sales this financial year, with some improvement in the first half of the 2016 financial year, and "a stronger growth trajectory" towards the end of that period.

Chief executive Crispin Simon said the company was making good progress with plans to accumulate compelling clinical evidence rather than just user feedback on the health benefits of its robotic exoskeletons.

Preliminary data from a study of 11 wheel-chair dependent patients showed all were able to complete the prescribed exercises and competently use the Rex joystick, with no adverse events. Further details on the trial will be presented at medical conferences in the next few months.

The company's main focus is on a 100-patient clinical trial to convince the rehabilitation community of Rex's benefits with ethics committee approval expected this month and the first patient recruited soon after. It is also bringing forward a US clinical trial to secure FDA clearance of the robotic exoskeletons for at-home use in the US by the end of next year.

'In the medium-term, we expect that evidence of clinical benefit will underpin commercial success," Simon said.

Manufacturing efficiencies in Auckland have cut the unit materials cost of a Rex device by more than a quarter since September. The priority now is on producing adequate numbers to meet distributor demand for product demonstrations.

Research and development work is progressing on Rex 3, the next generation re-modelled and lower cost product that is due for release in 2017. Discussions are also underway with a number of clinics about using Rex technology in fields other than spinal injury, such as stroke, traumatic brain injury and multiple sclerosis, Simon said.

Rex raised 10 million pounds in its reverse takeover and listing in May, to fund the roll-out of its device. As at Nov. 30 the company had 5.8 million pounds in cash and that had fallen to 4.98 million pounds by the end of January.

Before the May listing, Rex received some $2.9 million in government funding, a condition of which requires production to stay here until 2017.