Finch Slashes 20% of Headcount to Hone in on C.Diff, Autism

Pink Slip Layoff

Following a strategic view of its pipeline last month, microbiome company Finch Therapeutics has slashed its headcount by 20% in order to free funds to focus its resources on the development of its programs in recurrent C. difficile infection and autism spectrum disorder, programs wholly-owned by the company.

Finch CEO Mark Smith said cutting the staff was a difficult decision but was necessary in order to place the company in a stronger financial position to drive the development of its assets. The headcount reductions followed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision last month to place a clinical hold on the enrollment of Finch’s Phase III trial assessing CP101 in recurrent C. diff. The FDA demanded additional data from the company regarding its SARS-CoV-2 donor screening protocols.

Two years ago, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA raised an alarm over the potential risk of viral transmission through the use of donor-derived investigational microbiome therapies, such as Finch’s CP-101, an oral Full-Spectrum Microbiota product, which it gained through its 2017 merger with Crestovo. Now, the regulatory agency is seeking additional information that could delay its ongoing Prism4 study. In its announcement about the layoffs, Finch said it submitted a complete response to the FDA and is awaiting feedback.

There have been holds placed on the development program for CP-101, but throughout that time, Finch was able to treat patients within the protocols of the clinical trial. As BioSpace reported last month, those processes that allowed the dosing of patients while a trial was on hold are expected to be investigated.

In addition to its potential delays in C. diff., Finch announced last month that it had paused the development of CP101 for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B infection in order to focus on C. diff.

In its 2021 year-end report announced at the end of March, Smith said the company achieved multiple milestones, including the advancement of an ulcerative colitis program with Takeda. Last year, the Finch turned over the responsibility of the FIN-524 ulcerative colitis development program to the larger company. Now known as TAK-524, the orally administered targeted consortia product candidate composed of both spore-forming and non-spore-forming bacterial strains will move into the clinic under the guidance of Takeda.

Finch intends to issue new guidance on the company’s cash runway as a result of the layoffs at the time it announces its first-quarter financial results.

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