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.
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.
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.