Atreca Slashes One-Fourth Of Workforce in Reorganization Strategy


Atreca is reorganizing its workforce in a bid to extend its cash reserves to 2023. 

The clinical-stage biotechnology firm is reducing its staff count by over 25% and revising its operating plan to reflect these cost-cutting measures. The company posted a net loss of $24.9 million in the first quarter of 2022, mainly owing to research and development expenses, logged at $17.1 million, and general and administrative expenses, logged at $8.6 million. 

While the year started strong for Atreca, with several preclinical and clinical milestones achieved, the company said it needs to streamline its operations to focus on its strong suits. Mainly, Atreca will pour most of its energy and resources into the development of ATRC-201, ATRC-301 and other preclinical oncology programs. 

ATRC-201, which is currently in a Phase Ib study, is a monoclonal antibody that targets a ribonucleoprotein complex, while ATRC-301, currently in IND-enabling trials, is an antibody-drug conjugate that targets a novel epitope on erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular receptor A2 (EphA2). The company said it will target one additional investigational new drug filing per year for ATRC-301 starting in 2023. 

In addition, Atreca will continue activities related to generating new lead antibodies versus tumor targets using its proprietary discovery platform. Atreca's unique program is based on the interrogation of the active human immune response.

"Given the productivity of our platform, and the validation provided by ATRC-101 clinical activity reported earlier this year, we remain committed to leveraging the platform for the continued growth of our pipeline, while also supporting the development of existing programs. We sincerely thank our team, including those who are leaving Atreca, for working so creatively and diligently to build a highly efficient and scalable platform in service of delivering potential medicines to patients with unmet needs," said Tito Serafini, Ph.D., chief strategy officer and founder of Atreca, in a statement.

The company had $125.8 million in cash and cash equivalents as of March 31, 2022. Earlier this year, Atreca entered into a licensing deal with Zymeworks to use its ZymeLink technology to develop antibody-drug conjugates. 

ZymeLink is the company's suite of proprietary cytotoxins, linkers and conjugation technologies. The agreement covers a two-year research program, with an option to go for a third if things go well. During such a period, Atreca is allowed to acquire up to three commercial licenses to develop unique ADC programs. 

Beyond oncology, Atreca has been exploring malaria prevention alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with whom it has partnered since 2012. In 2021, Atreca licensed its preclinical monoclonal antibody to the foundation's Medical Research Institute to use MAM01/ATRC-501 to target the malaria protein, circumsporozoite, to shield against infection. Financial terms weren't disclosed. What is known is that Atreca will have commercial rights to use the antibody in Europe, the U.S., and other areas in Asia.

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