Ziopharm rebrands to Alaunos, closes Boston office with new CEO at the reins
A little over a year after facing an activist attack that saw former CEO Laurence Cooper survive but retire a few months later, Ziopharm Oncology will undergo a rebranding and restructuring.
Its new company name will be Alaunos Therapeutics, the biotech announced Thursday, aiming to put its checkered past behind it. In addition, Alaunos has closed its Boston office and will move its headquarters to Houston — it’s unclear whether this will result in substantial layoffs.
The move comes after the new CEO, Kevin Boyle, took the reins in September.
“Over the course of 2022, the team will continue to work diligently with an execution mindset to deliver results,” Boyle said in a statement. “Our name change to Alaunos Therapeutics reflects the completion of our transition to a TCR-T focused company and embodies our mission of developing novel therapies for cancer patients.”
Back in November 2020, then-Ziopharm tried to withstand an activist attack from WaterMill Asset Management Corp, which attempted to oust half the company’s eight-member board and Cooper. The end result proved somewhat successful for WaterMill, as it secured the election of two board members but failed to oust Cooper.
One board member that didn’t make it on at the time was WaterMill CEO Robert Postma, though he eventually joined the board soon after. In February, Cooper stepped down from his post and Boyle, who had the endorsement of Postma, was later appointed chief executive after a six-month search.
Alaunos recently launched enrollment for a Phase I/II study for its new lead program, using its technology to “evaluate 10 unique TCRs targeting KRAS, TP53 and EGFR mutations in patients across a broad range of solid tumors,” the company said Thursday. An interim data update is expected sometime later this year.