Three more biotechnology companies announced layoffs this week, adding to a string of cost-cutting efforts across the industry that has involved more than 100 drugmakers since the start of last year.
Since Tuesday, Evelo Biosciences, Inovio and Quince Therapeutics have disclosed plans to reduce their workforce to save cash. Taysha Gene Therapies also revealed Tuesday that it has taken “operational, structural and personnel changes,” although it did not specify what those were.
The moves come amid a sector-wide retrenchment that has caused biotechs to tighten their belts and made it more difficult to raise cash in stock offerings.
Evelo’s restructuring follows a clinical setback. The company, one of several microbiome drug developers formed by Flagship Pioneering, said a medicine it’s been developing for atopic dermatitis failed its main goal in a Phase 2 trial. Evelo claimed an “unusually high placebo response” was to blame and noted that a different dose cohort, with a faster-release version of the drug, is fully enrolled. It also sees a path forward for the drug in psoriasis.
Nonetheless, Evelo is laying off an unspecified number of employees and focusing on “core clinical programs,” CEO Simba Gill said in a statement. The company’s shares have lost nearly all of their value since debuting at $16 apiece in 2018.
Quince, too, is shifting gears. The biotech was once an Alzheimer’s drug developer known as Cortexyme. But a string of setbacks, including a study pause ordered by the Food and Drug Administration, led the company to acquire another biotech last year, change its name and pursue rare disease drugs. It’s now looking for more medicines to buy, but revealed in a regulatory filing plans to reduce its workforce by 47%. The job cuts will be completed in April.
Inovio, meanwhile, is still struggling following its longrunning effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The company’s development was delayed multiple times while rival shots from Moderna, Pfizer and others got to market. Founding CEO Joseph Kim stepped down last May, and Inovio later restructured and stopped funding development of the shot. It’s now focused on treatments for HPV-associated diseases.
The job cuts announced Tuesday will affect another 11% of Inovio’s workforce, the company said.