Century Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focusing on “off-the-shelf” cell therapies for cancer, announced Wednesday it is undergoing a leadership change.
Century said that CEO Lalo Flores is stepping down to “pursue other opportunities” and will be immediately replaced, on an interim basis, by current Chief Technology Officer Greg Russotti. Additionally, Chief Business Officer Michael Diem has been promoted to CFO and Hy Levitsky — who had left the company in January — is returning to his previous post as head of research and development.
The board of directors has begun a search for a permanent CEO.
The overhaul in leadership marks the latest strategic shift for Century, a once high-flying startup that’s struggled since going public in 2021.
Century is one of several companies developing “allogeneic” cell therapies, which involve cells from donors and are meant to be more convenient than personalized, “autologous” CAR-T counterparts. The company was launched by Versant Ventures in 2019 with $250 million in funding — a sizable round that included the financial support of Bayer — and added another $211 million in an initial public offering two years later.
But Century has been swept up in the biotech sector’s downturn since then, a pullback that’s hit cell therapy developers particularly hard. The company has also dealt with growing skepticism around allogeneic treatments, which have struggled to match the high bar set by CAR-T therapies and are dealing with increased competition from bispecific antibodies. Century has lost more than 80% of its value since its IPO and, in January, laid off 25% of its staff and restructured its pipeline. Others such as Celularity and Fate Therapeutics have restructured in the last few months as well.
Century began a Phase 1 trial of a prospective lymphoma treatment in February. The study will test the potential of a repeat dosing regimen, one strategy allogeneic cell therapy developers are evaluating to boost the durability. That effort will, for now, be led by Russotti, a former cell therapy executive with Celgene.
“Greg is a true leader in the cell therapy space who we believe can build upon the company’s strong foundation with his significant clinical and commercial expertise. As Century enters an exciting new stage of growth, we look forward to continuing to leverage his extensive experience,” said Century board chair Joe Jimenez, in a statement.
Century shares fell about 9% Wednesday, to less than $3 apiece.