Following Disappointing Trial and Assessment, Genocea Shutters its Doors


After announcing plans to explore strategic alternatives less than a month ago, Genocea Biosciences is shutting down operations.

In a brief press release Tuesday morning, the company said its board of directors voted to wind down ongoing operations and terminate its remaining staff, except for those who are deemed necessary to see to the closing of the company. 

On Monday, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company reached out to the Nasdaq Stock Market and informed the exchange of its intentions to delist its stock from the Nasdaq Capital Market. Genocea will file a Form 25 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by June 2 as part of the delisting protocol. 

On the same day that Genocea announced its intentions to delist from the Nasdaq, the company announced that it received notice from the exchange that it was not in compliance due to its common stock having remained below $1 per share for 30 consecutive days.

Shares of Genocea plunged more than 67% Tuesday morning and were selling for 15 cents per share in premarket trading. 

At the end of April, Genocea announced its intentions to self-examine and see what could be salvaged following the disappointing results from its Phase I/IIa TiTAN study assessing GEN-011, an investigational adoptive T cell therapy comprising neoantigen-targeted peripheral cells. 

GEN-011 was comprised of CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, which were extracted from the patient's peripheral blood and specific for ATLAS-prioritized neoantigens. At the American Association for Cancer Research conference last month, Genocea presented data for GEN-011 that showed some efficacy. However, the results were much less than investors and analysts predicted, which sent shares plunging and began an inward focus on the future of the company.

When Genocea announced its plans to explore strategic alternatives, the company also announced the termination of 65% of its staff. 

Alongside GEN-011, Genocea was also assessing GEN-009, an investigational neoantigen vaccine designed to direct a patient's T cells to attack their tumor, as well as some preclinical assets developed through its proprietary ATLAS platform. The ATLAS platform was designed to "zero in" on both antigens that activate anti-tumor T cell responses and inhibitory antigens that drive pro-tumor immune responses.

Genocea did not mention plans regarding those clinical and preclinical assets in its announcement about winding down operations. It is possible the company is continuing to look for a buyer who may be able to salvage something from the company's developmental efforts. 

In 2017, Genocea was also hit with some uncertainty as it announced a pivot of its developmental strategy that shifted to neoantigen cancer treatments. That shift of focus also caused a significant round of layoffs. At the time, Genocea terminated 58% of its staff. 

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