OXFORD - Axis Genetics plc has become the first victim of the equity gap threatening U.K. bioscience companies. Axis has run out of money, laid off 25 of its 50 employees, and gone into administration, which is similar to Chapter 11 in the U.S.

The U.K. High Court last week appointed Andrew Wollaston and Alan Bloom, corporate restructuring partners at Ernst & Young, as joint administrators. They now are looking for buyers for all or some of the company's assets to cover the 3-4 million owed to Axis creditors. Its intellectual property relating to the development of human and veterinary vaccines produced in plants includes Epicoat, Axis' plant virus-based peptide presentation technology.