California-based biotech Regulus Therapeutics has announced it is to strip away more than half of its total workforce as part of a strategic restructuring effort designed to reduce operating costs.
The company has said it will 60% of its employees will face the axe, and also that it has put a hold on two early-stage studies: a Phase 1 chronic toxicity study in mice, designed to support a Phase 2 trial in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease scheduled for 2019, has been halted due to “unexpected observations, while recruitment for a Phase 2 study into Alport syndrome launched in partnership with Sanofi has also been paused while both companies renegotiate their agreement.
In light of these refocused efforts, the company also confirmed it would be shifting its preclinical research operations to centre on its hepatitis B virus programmes.
It is expected that these decisions will provide Regulus with greater cash reserves as it moves into 2019 and beyond, with estimates placing the savings at around $20 million. However, news of the drastic measures devastated the firm’s share price, sending it falling by as much as 45%.
“I am very disappointed that we need to take these drastic steps to preserve our capital, especially given the significant contributions by our dedicated employees to the progress made toward unlocking the potential of targeting microRNAs,” remarked Jay Hagan, Regulus’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “In the near-term, we will concentrate our efforts on investigating the unexpected mouse toxicity findings in our RGLS4326 programme, advancing our HBV programmes, and looking for additional ways to improve shareholder value.”