Seres cuts 30% of workforce in pipeline shift
- Seres Therapeutics plans to cut its workforce by a third and restructure its pipeline to focus resources on its clinical-stage microbiome therapeutic candidates, the company said Thursday.
- The company will lay off about 30 employees across research, manufacturing and administrative roles. Additionally, David Cook will transition to a consultant role from his current position as chief scientific officer. Matthew Henn, previously head of discovery and microbiome R&D, will replace Cook.
- "Following a comprehensive review of our pipeline, we are concentrating our resources on obtaining clinical results from our highest-priority, late-stage clinical programs in ulcerative colitis and C. difficile infection as well as our soon-to-be initiated Phase 1b study in patients with metastatic melanoma," said Seres CEO Eric Shaff in a statement.
Seres has been at the front of microbiome therapeutic research for years. But the recent restructuring isn't the first setback it's faced during that time.
After raising more than $260 million through venture financing and a public offering, the company's lead therapeutic candidate failed in a Phase 2 study, eroding investor enthusiasm for the microbiome space.
While some companies in the area have moved their focus away from live bacteria as drugs and toward therapeutics that manipulate the microbiome 'in situ', Seres has persisted with the live approach.
Now, the company will focus primarily on completing its SER-287 Phase 2b study in mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis and its SER-109 Phase 3 study for recurrent C. difficile infection. Seres will also begin an early study to explore whether manipulating the microbiome could augment patient response to checkpoint inhibitor therapy in metastatic melanoma.
Enrolling the SER-109 trial, though, has proved challenging. According to the company, the widespread use of unapproved, fecal microbiota transplantation to treat C. difficile infection has impacted the trial's enrollment rate.
According to clinicaltrials.gov, the study's target enrollment is 320 patients. Seres did note that it is looking into changing the study's design to "expedite clinical results."
Seres isn't alone in the space, however, and could face a competitive challenge from Rebiotix's RBX2660, which was developed from the company's Microbiota Restoration Therapy drug platform.
Currently, the drug is in Phase 3 development for the prevention of recurrent Clostridium difficile infections. Ferring Pharmaceuticals bought up Rebiotix in April 2018.
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