Unum Restructures, Closing Two Clinical Trials and Laying Off 43


Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Unum Therapeutics announced it is restructuring in order to shift assets toward its preclinical program, BOXR1030, for solid tumors. As part of its plans, it is wrapping up its ACTR707 clinical trials, which includes the Phase I ATTCK-20-03 trial and ATTCK-34-01 Phase I trial. It is also cutting 43 jobs, about 60% of the company.

In addition, the company’s chief scientific officer, Seth Ettenberg, has resigned. He is joining BlueRock Therapeutics as their chief scientific officer.

The ACTR707 ATTCK-20-03 trial evaluated ACTR7078 in combination with Genentech and Biogen’s Rituxan (rituximab) in relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The ATTCK-334-01 trial evaluated ACTR707 in combination with Genentech’s Herceptin (trastuzumab) in HER2+ solid tumors. ACTR707 was identified through the company’s high-throughput screening efforts.

On January 29, 2020, the company announced it had completed Cohort 1 enrollment with no dose-limiting toxicities (DLT) in the ATTCK-34-01 trial. There has since been no news related to these programs other than today’s announcement that they are ending them.

Unum plans to continue leveraging its BOXR discovery platform and suggests it may be looking for collaboration partners. The company’s BOXR1030 was discovered using its Bolt-on Chimeric (BOXR) platform, which is designed to discover novel “bolt-on” transgenes that can be co-expressed with T-cell receptors (CARs) or ACTR, which prolong the life of T-cells.

BOXTR candidates are made up of two parts, a targeting receptor that directs the T-cell to attack tumor cells, and a novel “bolt-on” transgene that improves the function of the T-cell.

The first product candidate from the BOXR platform is BOXR1030, which expresses GPC3+ targeted CAR and utilizes the bolt-on GOT2 transgene to improve T-cell function. The company presented preclinical data on BOXR1030 at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) Annual Meeting in November 2019.

The company has launched preclinical development efforts, including safety testing and GMP process development, in hopes of filing an Investigational New Drug application for BOXR1030 later this year.

“Following a detailed review of our operations, opportunities, and cash reserves, we believe the decisions announced today are in the best interests of all Unum stakeholders, including patients, clinicians, employees and shareholders,” said Chuck Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Unum.

He went on to say, “We remain committed to addressing the challenges of treating solid tumor cancers, and would like to thank the patients, their families, and the investigators who have made our efforts to date possible. In addition, we would like to thank Seth for his contributions to the preclinical discovery efforts here at Unum over the years and wish him the very best in his next endeavor.”

The company indicates it will offer severance, continuation of employee benefits and outplacement assistance to the staffers being laid off. As of September 30, 2019, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $45.9 million. After the restructuring, Unum believes it will have enough funds to operate into mid-2021.

Company shares dropped 17.9% at the news on 33% higher volume. It’s been something of a roller-coaster ride recently for the company’s shares. On February 20, Simply Wall Street indicated that the shares had gained 22% in the last three months, but over the last year the share prices had dropped 81%.

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