- Freeline Therapeutics is cutting more jobs and halting work on an experimental gene therapy for the rare inherited condition Fabry, marking the biotechnology company’s second round of restructuring since last year.
- The U.K.-based gene therapy developer said Tuesday it will reduce its workforce by about 30% and prioritize development of a gene therapy for another rare disease called Gaucher. Freeline expects to reveal initial clinical data for the program, known as FLT201, in the third quarter.
- The announcement follows a November restructuring that discontinued an experimental hemophilia treatment, laid off about 30 employees and put Freeline’s German unit up for sale. After the latest cuts, the company will have around 65 workers, half its total before the layoffs last year.
Freeline’s retrenchment adds to the growing list of reorganizations, job cuts and other strategic maneuvers young drugmakers have pursued amid a sharp downturn in the public markets.
Already this year, at least 56 biotech companies have announced layoffs, according to a BioPharma Dive tally. More than ten of those companies are gene and cell therapy developers, which were hit particularly hard early on in the sector’s pullback.
Freeline’s exit from Fabry disease research follows a similar move from Avrobio last year and leaves Sangamo Therapeutics with the most advanced gene therapy in development for the disorder. Sangamo disclosed early data for its prospective treatment in February.
Freeline will now focus on a treatment for Gaucher disease, specifically patients with the Type 1 form. The biotech is recruiting patients for an early-stage trial and expects to report initial data in the third quarter of 2023, it said Tuesday.
The biotech had about $47 million in cash and cash equivalents at the end of 2022, down from around $117 million a year earlier. With the restructuring and proceeds from the sale of its German division, the company now expects to be able to fund operations into the second quarter of 2024.
Freeline shares fell around 3% Tuesday, to below $0.50 apiece, and have lost nearly all their value since the company went public in 2020.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the first description of when Freeline expects initial clinical data from its trial of FLT201.