OvaScience Pinks Slips Nearly 50% of Workforce


OvaScience provided a corporate update that includes initial data from a Phase I trial and news of extensive layoffs.

The company is restructuring to cut costs. As part of that process, it is laying off about half of its staff. Most of the job cuts are expected to be finished by March 2018. Because of the cuts, OvaScience expects to show savings in the second quarter of the year, with one-time costs of about $1 million to $1.5 million.

“In its early years, OvaScience grew rapidly to accommodate the global commercialization of the AUGMENT treatment,” said Christopher Kroeger, OvaScience’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “Following the strategic decision to focus our resources on the advancement of OvaPrime and OvaTure, however, we are now operating with a tighter research and development focus. After a careful review of our business, we have determined that our revised strategy can be executed most efficiently by a leaner, more versatile organization.”

The company also announced initial clinical data from its Phase I trial of OvaPrime in women with primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) and poor ovarian response (POR). Early safety data in 20 patients showed it was generally safe and well-tolerated.

The company is closing enrollment in this Phase I trial at 78 patients, for a modified intent-to-treat (mITT) population of 60, and to advance OvaPrime into a Phase Ib/IIa trial in women with POI or POR.

The company’s tech platform leverages immature egg cells found inside the protective ovarian lining, called egg precursor cells (EggPC). OvaPrime is designed to increase a woman’s egg reserve. OvaTure is a potential in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment that is expected to help in producing new, fertilizable eggs without hormone injections. The company’s AUGMENT treatment is to improve IVF success rates, and is already available in some IVF clinics in Canada and Japan.

“We are pleased to announce these preliminary first-in-human results for OvaPrime,” Kroeger said in a statement. “Based on these data, coupled with recent improvement to our cell processing capabilities that will enable us to consistently administer a higher number of EggPC cells per treatment, we have decided to close enrollment in our Phase I study and advance OvaPrime into a multi-center Phase Ib/IIa trial in women with POI and POR.”

OvaScience also announced that James Lillie would be joining the company as chief scientific officer, effective Jan. 16, 2018. Lillie will head OvaScience’s preclinical efforts with the EggPC tech platform, including the OvaTure program. Prior to joining OvaScience, Lillie was vice president, In Vitro Biology, for Sanofi Genzyme. Before that, he was at Millennium Pharmaceuticals. He also had positions at Scriptgen Pharmaceuticals and co-founded AMIRA, which was later sold to Repligen Corporation.

“I’m excited to join OvaScience at this pivotal time in the company’s evolution,” Lillie said in a statement. “OvaScience’s novel EggPC technology has demonstrated enormous potential to revolutionize the infertility landscape by providing women with opportunities to have genetic children of their own. I look forward to working with the Company’s scientists to further develop the EggPC platform and advance OvaTure and OvaPrime for women and couples in need.”

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