Sean McCarthy, CytomX CEO

Reel­ing from PhII flop, Cy­tomX lays off 40% as ex­ecs go back to draw­ing board, seek new deals

Just days af­ter putting a lead drug on the back­burn­er in the wake of a Phase II flop, Cy­tomX has set­tled on a makeover plan.

The South San Fran­cis­co biotech is lay­ing off around 40% of its staffers as part of a re­vamp in­tend­ed to pri­or­i­tize in­ter­nal work on its pre­clin­i­cal and ear­ly clin­i­cal pipeline — hit­ting hard­est on the de­vel­op­ment and gen­er­al and ad­min­is­tra­tive teams. At the end of 2021, Cy­tomX re­port­ed it had 174 full-time em­ploy­ees.

Amy Pe­ter­son

Among those de­part­ing will be pres­i­dent and COO Amy Pe­ter­son, CFO Car­los Cam­poy and CMO Al­i­son Han­nah.

In ad­di­tion to praluzatam­ab rav­tan­sine, the CD166-di­rect­ed an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate that de­liv­ered dis­ap­point­ing re­sults in breast can­cer, the biotech says it will al­so de­pri­or­i­tize a DM21-con­ju­gat­ed Ep­CAM-di­rect­ed ADC dubbed CX-2043.

Car­los Cam­poy

For now, all the clin­i­cal-stage pro­grams in the pipeline come from its Big Phar­ma pacts: CX-904, the Am­gen-al­lied Phase I T cell-en­gag­ing bis­pe­cif­ic; CX-2029, the Ab­b­Vie-part­nered Phase II ADC; as well as BMS-986249 and BMS-986288, con­di­tion­al­ly ac­ti­vat­ed ver­sions of Bris­tol My­ers Squibb’s Yer­voy be­ing de­vel­oped by the phar­ma gi­ant.

While all of Cy­tomX’s own can­di­dates re­main pre­clin­i­cal, it does plan to file INDs in 2023 for an IFN al­pha-2b cy­tokine and a sep­a­rate Ep­CAM-di­rect­ed ADC.

The learn­ings from its clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence — which hasn’t seen much suc­cess so far — will in­form the next wave of can­di­dates, CEO Sean Mc­Carthy said.

“In the con­text of the chal­leng­ing cur­rent in­vest­ment cli­mate for biotech­nol­o­gy, we are mak­ing a se­ries of changes to en­sure Cy­tomX re­mains well po­si­tioned for the fu­ture,” he added.

As the re­struc­tur­ing ex­tends the cash run­way from 2024 to 2025, it should al­so buy time for more busi­ness de­vel­op­ment around their Pro­body tech­nol­o­gy. Lever­ag­ing a mask­ing pep­tide, the idea is that its spe­cial­ly de­signed drugs would on­ly be ac­ti­vat­ed un­der the right con­di­tions, the­o­ret­i­cal­ly al­le­vi­at­ing safe­ty con­cerns.

“Part­ner­ships have been formed in rapid suc­ces­sion, par­tic­u­lar­ly 2016 through 2017, though there is lit­tle vis­i­bil­i­ty on tim­ing as the last part­ner­ship oc­curred in 2020,” Mizuho an­a­lysts not­ed.

The Fac­tors Dri­ving a Rapid Evo­lu­tion of Gene & Cell Ther­a­py and CAR-T Clin­i­cal Re­search in APAC

APAC is the fastest growing region globally for cell & gene therapy trials representing more than a third of all cell & gene studies globally, with China leading in the region. 

APAC is the leading location globally for CAR-T trials with China attracting ~60% of all CAR-T trials globally between 2015-2022. The number of CAR-T trials initiated by Western companies has rapidly increased in recent years (current CAGR of about 60%), with multiple targets being explored including CD19, CD20, CD22, BCMA, CD30, CD123, CD33, CD38, and CD138.

The End­points 11; blue­bird's $3M gene ther­a­py; Bio­gen tout new neu­ro da­ta; Harsh re­views for can­cer drugs; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

Reading about John Carroll’s pick of biotech’s most promising startups has become a treasured tradition. If you ever get curious about previous classes of the Endpoints 11, you can find all of them (plus a number of our other regular specials) here.

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EMA warns of short­ages of two Boehringer heart drugs due to a spike in de­mand

The EMA is putting EU member states on alert over the shortage of two drugs that counter heart attacks due to an uptick in demand.

On Friday, the EMA sent out a warning that two Boehringer Ingelheim drugs are experiencing a shortage: Actilyse and Metalyse. The drugs are used as emergency treatments for adults experiencing acute myocardial infarction, or a heart attack, by dissolving blood clots that have formed in the blood vessels.

The End­points 11: The top pri­vate biotechs in pur­suit of new drugs. Push­ing the en­ve­lope with pow­er­ful new tech­nolo­gies

Right around the beginning of the year, we got a close-up look at what happens after a boom ripples through biotech. The crash of life sciences stocks in Q1 was heard around the world.

In the months since, we’ve seen the natural Darwinian down cycle take effect. Reverse mergers made a comeback, with more burned out shells to go public at a time IPOs and road shows are out of favor. And no doubt some of the more recent arrivals on the investing side of the business are finding greener pastures.

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Wendy Lund, WPP chief client officer for health and wellness

WPP taps Organon chief com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer Wendy Lund for new health and well­ness client role

Wendy Lund is going home – to WPP, that is. Lund is leaving the Merck women’s health spinoff Organon where she is chief communications officer for a newly created role as WPP chief client officer for health and wellness. Before Organon, Lund led GCI Group, a WPP healthcare communications agency, as CEO for 11 years.

Lund joins WPP’s group of global client leaders who act as a single point of contact or entry for clients with WPP brands and businesses inside the holding company. and in this case, for the WPP health and wellness business.

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Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar

Should SCO­TUS hear Am­gen's Repatha case? So­lic­i­tor gen­er­al says no

Back in April, Amgen said it was encouraged by the solicitor general’s anticipated review of its Supreme Court petition to rehear a Repatha patent case. They’re likely much less optimistic about the outcome now.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in a recent 27-page brief that Amgen’s arguments “lack merit and further review is not warranted.”

The case traces back to a suit filed in 2014 against Sanofi and Regeneron’s Praluent, which ended up beating Amgen’s PCSK9 blockbuster Repatha to market by a month just a year later.

Phil Sharp, Nobel Prize laureate (L), and John Carroll, Endpoints News co-CEO (via Michael Last)

The End­points 11: Fire­side chat with No­bel Prize lau­re­ate Phil Sharp

On Thursday evening in Boston I had the great good fortune to talk about the creation of the biotech industry with Nobel Prize-winning scientist Phil Sharp. I learned quite a bit about the early days of Genentech, Biogen and Alnylam, which all helped birth this unusual drug development ecosystem. And that’s why we can do things like the Endpoints 11. Here’s my talk with Phil Sharp, which you can either watch or read below.

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Klick Health gath­ers biotech and phar­ma lu­mi­nar­ies to dis­cuss in­dus­try in­no­va­tions, in­vest­ments and fu­ture

At Klick Health’s first Ideas Exchange conference with biotech and pharma industry insiders since before the pandemic began, it was no surprise many conversations included Covid topics. Yet while vaccines and treatments were discussed, so too were the effects on drug development, federal responses, health inequities — and what to do now and next.

George Yancopoulos, chief scientist and cofounder of Regeneron, opened the conference responding to a question from Acorda CEO Ron Cohen about the spotlight on the industry during Covid and some of the “flak” biopharma has taken in the past.

FDA's out­side ex­perts vote in fa­vor of Fer­ring's fe­cal trans­plant for C. dif­fi­cile, set­ting the stage for Seres

FDA’s outside advisors voted in favor of Ferring Pharmaceuticals’ RBX2660, an experimental poop-based drug implant that the company says would be the first microbiota-based live biotherapeutic to receive an FDA green light.

That was a point repeatedly discussed during the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, or VRBPAC, meeting Thursday when evaluating Ferring’s fecal microbiota transplant, or FMT, for reducing the recurrence of Clostridioides difficile infection in adults who have received antibiotics. Multiple members brought up the need for a regulated product amid a landscape of unregulated FMTs already happening in clinical care.

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