- Sangamo Therapeutics will reduce its workforce by 27%, announcing Wednesday plans to trim its research and stop certain manufacturing operations in an effort to redirect resources toward a narrower slate of programs.
- The layoffs will affect approximately 120 roles. “Today’s environment necessitates careful choices when deciding how many programs to take forward at once,” Sangamo CEO Sandy Macrae said in a company statement.
- Moving forward, Sangamo will focus on drug research on neuropathic pain and prion diseases, as well as a gene therapy for Fabry disease that’s nearing late-stage clinical testing. The California-based biotechnology company will also prioritize a personalized cell therapy for kidney transplant rejection.
Nearly 70 biotechs have been forced to lay off staff since January, a wave of consolidation that’s claimed over 3,500 jobs across the sector. A depressed biotech stock market has tightened companies’ financial options, leading many to pare back spending to extend their operating runway.
Sangamo, a nearly 30-year-old company and an early gene therapy developer, is one of the larger biotechs to feel the crunch. The restructuring it announced Wednesday follows a February decision by the company to stop work on an experimental treatment for sickle cell disease.
This time, Sangamo is pausing further development of preclinical neurological disease programs that had been partnered with Biogen and Novartis, pending identification of better ways to deliver those therapies. The company is also prioritizing personalized cell therapies over donor-derived treatments, transitioning research on the latter from its Sangamo US division to Sangamo France and halting cell therapy manufacturing in California.
Along with the other employees being laid off, Sangamo’s head of technical operations, R. Andrew Ramelmeier, is departing the company, to be replaced by Phillip Ramsey, currently vice president of technical development.
The cuts will result in annualized savings of $31 million, according to Sangamo, which expects to have sufficient cash to fund operations for at least the next 12 months.
Sangamo’s neurology pipeline will now be led by a newly unveiled program focused on the sodium ion channel Nav1.7. The company plans to request regulatory clearance to begin human testing next year.
Its Fabry disease treatment is currently in mid-stage testing and Sangamo plans to meet with the Food and Drug Administration this summer on the design of a Phase 3 study, which could begin in the second half of the year.
The company’s cell therapy for kidney transplant rejection is in a Phase 1/2 study, meanwhile. Data are expected from the first cohort of study participants by the end of the year.