By WRAL Tech Wire

WINSTON SALEM, N.C. – Targacept (NASDAQ: TRGT) saw profits increase last quarter.

The clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company’s net profit in the first quarter was $12.6 million, up 85 percent from $6.8 million a year ago, according to its earnings announcement on Thursday.

The higher income is a function of the revenue recognized during the quarter from previously announced partnerships with pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK).

Among the highlights of the quarter, the Winston-Salem-based company said they were continuing preparations for a new drug application for a potential treatment for major depressive disorder in partnership with AstraZeneca, encouraging clinical results from trials related to schizophrenia and new studies enrolling related to asthma and diabetes.

The company reported in February a net income of $10.9 million in 2010. Targacept did lose $2.2 million in the fourth quarter last year, but that was sharply lower than the $26.4 million a year earlier.

In 2009, Targacept lost a total $39.4 million.

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