SHARES in Angel Biotechnology soared after it signed drug development manufacturing contracts worth more than £4.5 million.

Investors responded positively to the news with the stock ending the day up almost 20% to 0.28p.

The three deals build on the Scottish firm's relationship with Russian pharmaceutical business Materia Medica Holding.

The projects, which will run concurrently for around 22 months, will start out in Angel's Pentlands facility on the outskirts of Edinburgh before transferring later this year when a new larger site at Cramlington, Northumberlan, opens.

The agreements will eventually form part of a joint venture between the companies. That will see a dedicated space for manufacturing for MMH created at Cramlington, with Angel entering into an agreed pricing structure on projects.

Dr Paul Harper, executive chairman of Angel Biotechnology Holdings, believes the joint venture will be on a "sure footing" from the beginning.

He said: "The commission of these three new agreements provides a robust basis for the proposed joint venture company between Angel and MMH and demonstrates the confidence the customer has in Angel's capabilities."

Professor Oleg Epstein, general director of MMH, said it was important the development work began while the joint venture was still being established.

He said: "By signing these three new agreements with Angel, MMH can act in a timely manner to bring these products to market."

Angel employs 38 people in Scotland and expects to hire 10 initially when Cramlington opens before the end of March.