Recent Trial Failures to Leave Imara with Just Six FT Employees


Weeks after Imara announced its plans to discontinue the development of tovinontrinein for sickle cell and beta-thalassemia and heart failure, the company has culled 83% of its workforce.

Boston-based Imara announced the workforce reductions in a filing with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday – a not-so-good Friday for company employees. Imara said the job cuts will be across all areas of the company. This includes at least one member of the leadership team, Chief Medical Officer Kenneth Attie, who will leave the company on April 20. The cuts will leave Imara with only six full-time employees.

The layoffs will be completed by the end of the second quarter of this year, and are expected to cause Imara to incur a restructuring charge of approximately $2 to $2.2 million. Those funds will mostly be related to severance payments, healthcare coverage and related benefits. Imara did not indicate how much of a cost-savings the layoffs will provide the company, nor did it indicate what kind of cash runway it has with its available funds. In its most recent quarterly financial report, Imara said that as of Dec. 31, 2021, it had $90.3 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments.

Tovinontrine, a highly selective and potent small-molecule inhibitor of phosphodiesterase-9 (PDE9), was being assessed in three indications, with the treatment of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) being the most recent. It was only in January that the company announced it had received authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin clinical development in this indication. Imara had planned to line up a Phase II study in patients 45 years of age or older with persistent HFpEF symptoms. However, days after the company announced plans to discontinue the development of the asset in sickle cell and beta-thalassemia, Imara pulled the plug on HFpEF as well.

In beta-thalassemia and sickle cell, tovinontrine failed to hit the mark in an interim analysis of a Phase II study in both indications.

In addition to the discontinuation of development for tovinontrine in those three indications, Imara said it is also discontinuing the development of IMR-261, an oral activator of nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2). The company acquired the asset last year with the intent to assess IMR-261 in different indications in hemoglobin and iron overload disorders.

With the discontinuation of those assets, Imara is now undertaking a strategic review in order to maximize shareholder value, the company said in its filing.

Back to news