Surface Oncology, a biotechnology company developing immunotherapies for cancer, on Wednesday said it will lay off 20% of its workforce as it stops development of one of its experimental drugs.
The drugmaker had employed 67 people as of February, according to a March regulatory filing. In a statement, a company spokesperson said “approximately” 60 employees would remain following the cuts.
The restructuring is in response to a reprioritization by Surface of its pipeline. The company will focus on two antibody candidates, dubbed SRF388 and SRF114, while pausing work on its candidate SRF617.
“We believe it is in the best interest of patients and our shareholders to invest our resources where they can have the greatest potential impact in the near term,” said Rob Ross, Surface’s chief executive, in a statement.
Surface said the layoffs would extend its operating runway into the second quarter of 2024.
The company is just one of many biotechs forced to cut jobs or spending this year. By June, some 54 biotech companies had laid off staff, according to a count by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. Others have joined the list since then, including Rubius Therapeutics, Vesalius Therapeutics and BioMarin Pharmaceuticals.
In the past, biotech companies have had an easy time raising new funds from private investors or from public markets. But the biotech market took a nose dive earlier this year and has yet to recover. Throughout 2022, fewer biotechs have been able to go public, raise new funds or maintain their value if already publicly traded. Some companies have instead turned to acquisitions or sold off drug candidates.
Surface said it is “actively pursuing potential business development opportunities” for SRF617.