Imara reduced to six employees as the biotech, once again preclinical, explores its options
Imara will employ just six people by the end of this quarter as 83% of the staff has been shown the exit following the biotech’s Phase IIb flops earlier this month.
The company will likely have to find a buyer or shut down. Imara’s main goal and likely only priority at this point — after ending work on its sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia drug — is undergoing a “comprehensive assessment of its strategic options to maximize shareholder value.”
Imara disclosed the layoffs in an SEC filing on April 14 after the board decided two days prior to make the move, which includes getting rid of chief medical officer Kenneth Attie, who joined in January 2021 after more than a decade at Acceleron. The company had 41 employees as of Dec. 31, 2021. Doing the math, the 83% reduction means Imara had about 34 employees at the time of the April 14 decision.
The Boston biotech had pinned its hopes on IMR-687, also known as tovinontrine, but those ambitions hit a brick wall earlier this month when the company said the drug did not deliver as expected in the two blood disorders. The drug, a PDE9 inhibitor in-licensed from Lundbeck, was also on tap for a Phase II study this quarter as a treatment for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. But that study was also axed.
With the reversion to preclinical mode earlier this month, the NEA-founded company also ended work on IMR-261, a former Complexa drug that went through Phase II trials for focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and pulmonary arterial hypertension. As recently as December, Imara had ambitions of bringing the drug back into the clinic based on preclinical data. The company had cited medical literature suggesting the drug’s potential promise in hemoglobin disorders and iron overload diseases.
Imara’s tale follows the fate of too many other biotechs and pharmas this year that have had to conduct layoffs because of trial disasters, a bear market and a host of other reasons. Some companies have nearly completely eliminated their workforces, and at least two have shut down operations in recent weeks, including Flagship-incubated Kaleido Biosciences.