A CURE for cat allergy being developed by Oxford firm Circassia should go on sale in 2017.

To speed up the process, the biotech company doubled its spending on research and development last year, up from £21m to £38m.

It also doubled the number of employees at its Oxford Science Park base, from 25 to 56.

Circassia chief executive Steve Harris described the past 12 months as “transformational”.

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He said: “We have made some terrific clinical and financial progress – it’s been a tremendous year.” The firm is paying for development of its revolutionary Cat- SPIRE treatment with more than £200m raised on the London Stock Exchange.

Cat-SPIRE needs just four injections, four weeks apart and rather than a traditional needle and syringe, is given using micro-needles, or tiny, hollow silicon crystals.

Trials suggest the effects of the 16-week course can last more than two years.

Preliminary end-of-year results for the 12 months to December 31 showed Circassia also stepped-up clinical trials on its other products. These include cures for hayfever, house dust mite and ragweed allergies, developed from the same technology. The breakthrough that led to Cat-SPIRE was made by two professors at London University.

Eight years ago, bioscience entrepreneur Mr Harris acquired the technology and has since raised more than £300m to develop it.

Due to the huge costs of research and testing, the firm made a £35m loss in the 12 months to December, up from £20m the previous year. But it has cash and deposit reserves of £187m and is valued at more than £500m.