Two weeks after moving to the helm of Seres Therapeutics from the CFO office, Eric Shaff has been charged with the unenviable task of laying off his CSO alongside 30% of the biotech’s workforce in an effort to narrow the flow of cash to its microbiome clinical programs.
Matthew Henn, previously head of discovery and microbiome R&D, will take David Cook’s place as Seres cuts 30 full-time and a number of contract positions “primary related to research, manufacturing and general and administrative services.”
The stock edged up, although the trading price — slightly above $6 — is still a far cry from its peak of $50-plus.
Seres, a leader in the relatively nascent field aimed at harnessing the multitudes of gut bacteria for therapeutic effect, has been fighting an uphill battle to recover from a Phase II disaster for its lead drug, SER-109. Its work reflect the scope of areas that microbiome startups have been trying to address, from battling recurrent C. difficile infection and ulcerative colitis to augmenting checkpoint inhibitors’ effects in melanoma.
These clinical stage programs will be of the “highest priority” at Seres moving on, Shaff said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the company also acknowledged that it’s having some difficulty enrolling for the SER-109 Phase III due to widespread use of unapproved fecal microbiota transplantation to treat C. diff infections. As a result, it’s “evaluating modification of the study design to expedite clinical results.”
Also ongoing are a Phase IIb study in mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis featuring SER-287; a Phase Ib study in collaboration with MD Anderson and the Parker Institute for SER-401, designed for a combo with a PD-1/L1; and preclinical work for another ulcerative colitis drug. Cook will remain a consultant on Seres’ immuno-oncology work, the company adds.
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