- Kenneth Galbraith, the freshly minted CEO of Canadian biotech company Zymeworks, on Wednesday announced plans to lay off at least 25% of his staff as part of an overhaul that will see half the senior management team leave.
- The workforce reduction will affect more than 100 people, based on the company’s tally of 455 full-time employees at the end of September. In a statement, Galbraith said the expected savings will help Zymeworks become more financially stable as it focuses on developing experimental cancer drugs and seeking new collaborations and partnerships.
- Over the first nine months of 2021, Zymeworks recorded just shy of $7 million in revenue, which came from research and development collaborations. The company ultimately ended the period with a $175 million operating loss.
Zymeworks says it has enough cash to operate at least through the end of the year and will look for further ways to shore up finances, including new partnerships and additional financing. As of Dec. 31, the company had about $250 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments.
In the meantime, all eyes are on upcoming clinical milestones. Zymeworks expects to report new data for its lead drug, zanidatamab, throughout the year, according to the statement Wednesday.
The company expects to finish enrolling a pivotal study of zanidatamab in biliary tract cancer by mid-2022. And, by the end of 2023, another key trial testing the drug's use in gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma should be fully recruited.
Zymeworks is also testing the drug in combination with other therapies in breast cancer.
Less advanced is the company’s experimental medicine ZW49. Zymeworks said it plans to analyze a Phase 1 trial this year and make a decision on the drug’s development path. The company pledged to move two new product candidates into initial testing as well, with the goal of submitting by the end of 2024 applications to begin human studies.
Notably, these advances will be overseen by an executive team that's recently experienced considerable change. Galbraith became CEO on Jan. 15, replacing Zymeworks co-founder Ali Tehrani. The company also recently promoted Neil Josephson to chief medical officer and added the title of chief operating officer for Neil Klompas, who already served as chief financial officer.