Drug Development

Zombie biotech Eleven Bio sheds staff in the final wind down

Hammered by back-to-back pivotal trial failures, Eleven Biotherapeutics ($EBIO) is continuing to wind down its operations. The biotech noted that it whacked 14 staffers last week, according to a notice filed with the SEC on Wednesday.

By its own account, there’s a skeleton staff of 4 still in place, with less and less on the table. The ophthalmology-focused company did not respond to a request for comment.

The ax was brought out just days after Cambridge, MA-based Eleven out-licensed its second drug program to Roche, taking $7.5 million in cash and the promise of $22.5 million more once the FDA accepts an IND for its still-preclinical IL-6 drug EBI-031. Investors will also have a $240 million milestone program in place if the drug works in the clinic.

Abbie Celniker, CEO

Abbie Celniker, CEO

EBI-005 (isunakinra)–an IL-1 receptor inhibitor–failed a Phase III study for dry eye disease back in May of last year. Determined to give it another go with the same drug, veteran CEO Abbie Celniker led the charge into a second late-stage study. But predictably that also flopped, leaving Eleven on life support.

About all that’s left now at Eleven is a VEGF drug in discovery, which will be worth little at this stage. The biotech says that it’s been exploring alternative strategies, but the most valuable thing left at Eleven now may be its public shell and any cash in the bank.

Eleven got started as a Third Rock/Flagship financed startup, jumping into the hot IPO market for biotech startups in 2014. The response from investors, though, was distinctly tepid. Eleven wound up raising $57 million, after grabbing $54 million from its venture backers.

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