Catalyst Biosciences cuts staff, changes R&D focus
- Catalyst Biosciences, a small biotech based in South San Francisco, on Wednesday said it would cut 10 staff, or approximately 50% of its workforce, and announced it would shift its focus towards its development programs in hemophilia.
- Existing anti-complement programs will be "reduced," with all research activities halted. Catalyst said the layoffs would result in a one-time charge of $1.1 million in severance, benefits and other costs.
- Catalyst hopes to sell off some of its now discontinued programs in delayed graft function and dry age-related macular degeneration.
Catalyst will now focus its R&D efforts on an early-stage drug and a preclinical compound: CB813d, a Factor VIIa agent aimed at hemophilia inhibitor patients, and CB 2679d, a Factor IX therapy designed to treat hemophilia B, respectively. Both are expected to begin new clinical trials in 2017 (a dosing study in the case of CB813d).
The hemophilia market more broadly is set for significant upheaval after a number of major changes at market-leading pharma companies.
Biogen announced in May it would shed its hemophilia business, spinning that portfolio off into a new company, which has since been named Bioverativ. This new entity will market Biogen's approved hemophilia drugs Eloctate and Alprolix, as well as develop pipeline candidates.
Market-leader Baxalta, which had received approval for its PEGylated form of the antihemophilic factor recombinant Adynovate last year, was finally acquired by Shire despite a back-and-forth pursuit.
One of the biggest upheavals to the area, though, is likely to come from the several gene therapies for hemophilia which are currently on the horizon.
UniQure, which developed the first gene therapy to be approved in Europe, has released tentatively promising top-line results for its gene therapy for hemophilia B. And BioMarin’s Phase 1 results suggested a possible cure in six of nine patients with hemophilia B.
Catalyst shares have been suffering from a long slide, exacerbated by Pfizer's decision to pull out of its collaboration on CB813d last April. The company believes it can finance operations for at least the next 12 months, according to a recent regulatory filing. Operating activities burned through just under $8.4 million over the first six months of 2016, leaving Catalyst with $11.3 million in cash and equivalents, as of June 30.
Follow Suzanne Elvidge on Twitter