BridgeBio Confirms Layoffs while Other Companies Follow Suit
Job cuts in biotech do tend to occur during the end of a quarter, and the end of this first quarter is no different. Continue reading for news of four biotech companies making workforce layoffs this week.
BridgeBio Confirms Layoffs
About two months ago, BridgeBio’s then-regional medical director, Mary Hames, Ph.D., noted on LinkedIn, that, “Due to some disappointing clinical data on another program, Bridge had to cut our team (and many others) today.” Hames said she was now on the market.
BridgeBio confirmed the job cuts with BioSpace. Company founder and CEO Neil Kumar stated, “This is part of a necessary and ongoing cost reduction process. We are sorry to see our colleagues go - a great number of whom contributed significantly to our mission to serve patients.”
On January 26, 2021, the company completed a merger with Eidos Therapeutics. BridgeBio stated at the time that it allowed “BridgeBio to deploy its full clinical and commercial infrastructure to support the development and global commercialization plans underway for Eidos’ acoramidis, a potential best-in-class therapy for patients with transthyretin (TTR) amyloidosis (ATTR).”
A little earlier, in late December, BridgeBio reported puzzling topline data from Part A (Month 12) of its Phase III ATTRibute-CM trial of acoramidis for symptomatic transthyretin (TTR) amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM). It failed the study arm, specifically with a mean observed decrease in 6-minute walking distance (6MWD) at Month 12 in patients receiving the drug or placebo with baseline eGFR ≥30 mL/min/1.72m2 were 9 meters and 7 meters, respectively.
What was puzzling was that the placebo cohort performed unexpectedly well, even by historical standards, with a decline of more than 70% than seen in the AATR-ACT treatment group.
Silverback to Cut 27% of Workforce
On Thursday, Silverback Therapeutics announced plans to lay off 27% of its workforce. The company has 90 employees. The Seattle-based company is shuttering its oncology programs after reporting poor clinical results for its lead compound for solid tumors. It is shifting its focus toward a treatment for hepatitis B.
“Over the course of the next few days and weeks, we are restructuring our workforce and allocating resources around our new strategic priorities,” Laura Shawver, Silverback’s chief executive officer, told investors in a conference call.
The company’s ImmunoTAC technology platform utilizes antibodies to deliver disease-modifying compounds to disease sites. Its lead cancer program, SBT6050, delivers a TLR8 agonist to solid tumors such as breast or lung cancer. Silverback was evaluating the drug alone and in combination with Merck’s checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in a Phase I/Ib trial, but it demonstrated “limited” anti-tumor activity. And with Keytruda, the toxicity levels prevented higher doses.
It hopes to submit an IND application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a hepatitis B study by the end of the year.
Taysha is Downsizing By 35%
As reported yesterday, Taysha Gene Therapies announced plans to cut 35% of its workforce. It will refocus its efforts on Rett syndrome and giant axonal neuropathy (GAN). It is also pausing all additional R&D activities in order to increase the efficiency for its lead programs. Taysha will continue clinical development for CLN7 Batten Disease, which it is partnered on with UT Southwestern and funded by the Children’s Medical Center Foundation.
“We are sharpening our strategic focus to prioritize key value-driving registration-directed programs in GAN, which has an estimated addressable patient population of 5,000 worldwide, and Rett syndrome, which affects over 350,000 patients worldwide,” said RA Session II, president, founder and chief executive officer of Taysha. “To increase operational efficiency, activities for other ongoing clinical programs will be minimized and all additional research and development will be paused. As a result, we have reduced our workforce by approximately 35%. Our strategic pipeline prioritization, along with existing cash and financing under our current debt facility is expected to extend cash runway into the fourth quarter of 2023.”
Bone Therapeutics Cuts and C-Suite Moves
On March 29, Belgium-based Bone Therapeutics announced it was “redefining its strategic priorities” to focus on its allogeneic cell therapy platform, ALLOB. This program is in a Phase IIb trial in patients with high-risk tibial fractures. It expects topline results in the first quarter of 2023.
To proceed, it has shifted all its R&D activities to support it, while all others in the clinic or preclinical, will be halted. It reported that its management team will leave, including chief executive officer Miguel Forte, chief scientific officer Tony Ting, chief business officer Stefano Theoharis, and chief financial officer Lieve Creten. Forte will remain for the transition. In addition, all non-executive board members have suspended their compensation for the first quarter of 2022 until further notice.
The ALLOB trial will be supervised by Dr. Anne Leselbaum, chief medical officer, and Anne-Sophie Lebrun, Ph.D., chief operating officer.
The company’s technology is an off-the-shelf allogeneic cell therapy made up of human allogeneic bone-forming cells derived from cultured bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells from healthy adult donors.