Hit by trial setback, Aslan slashes staff and a study — hunkering down in wait for pivotal data

Two weeks after reporting the failure of a key Phase II study of their lead drug, Aslan Pharmaceuticals $ASLN is restructuring, slashing staff and shuttering a trial as they aim for a pivotal win.

Bertil Lindmark

Out the exit goes Bertil Lindmark, the chief medical officer, now headed back to Europe. The CMO is leaving with 30% of the staff as the biotech slashes its burn rate in half. In other staff moves Chih-Yi Hsieh, the VP Medical and GM Taiwan, will take the role of acting CMO while COO Mark McHale becomes head of R&D.

The Singapore-based biotech will now focus much of its attention on a pivotal study of varlitinib in second-line biliary tract cancer, with data expected in the second half of the year. They’ll shutter another BTC trial in China now, with plans to file for approvals in the US and China and other regions on the surviving pivotal study. And they’ll be praying for more data like the Phase Ib results they touted in frontline BTC, which appeared promising.

Carl Firth

After going public last May the Aslan stock peaked at more than $10 last summer and has been sliding steadily ever since. It also took a hit earlier in the month on the failure of the gastric cancer study, raising doubts about the drug they obtained from Array. The Nasdaq stock ended Tuesday’s session at $3.51. 

Aslan needs a success this year — a big one — to win back investors.

Early- and mid-stage work on ASLAN003 in AML and ASLAN004 in atopic dermatitis will continue.

CEO Carl Firth noted:

We are approaching several significant milestones in 2019 and beyond, so it is important we complete key studies over the next two years. Restructuring the organisation has involved some tough decisions. It is difficult to lose outstanding members of the team who have contributed to ASLAN over the years and have tackled some of the most challenging obstacles to advancing new treatments for cancer.

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