Hop­ing to brake a slow crash, Aduro's Stephen Isaacs hits the re­set but­ton, ax­ing staff in re­or­ga­ni­za­tion

With in­vestor con­fi­dence steadi­ly bleed­ing out over the last year, Aduro $ADRO CEO Stephen Isaacs has hit the re­set but­ton in an at­tempt to get back on track. 

The biotech said this morn­ing that it is whack­ing 37% of the staff and cir­cling its wag­ons around lead pro­grams part­nered with 2 promi­nent big phar­mas — No­var­tis and Eli Lil­ly — fo­cused on STING. The biotech is al­so pur­su­ing an in-house an­ti-APRIL an­ti­body, in de­vel­op­ment in on­col­o­gy and IgA nephropa­thy.

How many staffers is that? We don’t know ex­act­ly, but when Aduro filed its 10-K for 2017 it had 162 full-time em­ploy­ees.

In­ter­est­ed in pick­ing up some shelved as­sets cheap? You should call Isaacs, who had this to say about the pro­grams be­ing pushed aside in the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion:

The strate­gic re­set will al­so al­low us to ex­plore new part­ner­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties for our de­pri­or­i­tized pro­grams, in­clud­ing pLADD, ADU-1604 (an­ti-CT­LA-4) and ADU-1805 (an­ti-SIR­Pα). While this was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion, I want to thank the em­ploy­ees who are leav­ing for their con­tri­bu­tions to Aduro.

Aduro biotech has seen its mar­ket cap shrink to less than its cash re­serves on a drum­beat of set­backs. 

The end­ed 2018 with $278 mil­lion in re­serves, then added a $12 mil­lion up­front in Jan­u­ary from Eli Lil­ly for their deal. The mar­ket cap, mean­while, was un­der $200 mil­lion be­fore the mar­ket open.

Aduro went pub­lic close to 4 years ago at $17 a share, tout­ing a pair of can­cer vac­cines and an on­col­o­gy pipeline, then saw the stock price to $40 soon af­ter. Af­ter that, things got rough — but very slow­ly.

A warmed up can­cer vac­cine — GVAX, one of the ini­tial wave — was a bust. Late in 2017 their oth­er can­cer vac­cine CRS-207, reengi­neered Lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes, hit the wall af­ter a long and trou­bled de­vel­op­ment pro­gram, forc­ing Isaacs to wash his hands of the ef­fort. 

Then J&J backed out of a promi­nent al­liance last fall. And Mer­ck didn’t make any­thing bet­ter when it ac­knowl­edged at ES­MO that its own STING ther­a­py didn’t ac­tu­al­ly work on its own.

Yes­ter­day Aduro’s stock closed at $2.47.


Im­age: Stephen Isaacs. BERKE­LEY via YOUTUBE

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