aTyr abandons manufacturing plans, cuts 19 jobs

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Tashatuvango)
(Image: Getty/Tashatuvango)
The US biotech has discarded manufacturing plans for antibodies identified in an immune-oncology programme and laid off 30% of its workforce.

aTyr Pharma announced restructuring plans during an investor call yesterday, which revealed a $3.1m (€2.6m) reduction in R&D costs for Q1 2018, compared to the same period last year.

“Research and development expenses were $6.2m and $9.2m for the quarters ended March 31, 2018 and 2017 respectively,” ​CEO Sanjay Shukla told shareholders.

This is largely due to the completion of clinical studies and lower product manufacturing costs, he added.

But disappointing preclinical results from aTyr Pharma’s immuno-oncology ORCA programme has prompted the firm to "pause" related antibody development.

“The company will no longer be proceeding with IND-enabling activities for the ORCA programme, including GMP manufacturing,” ​Shukla told investors.

As a result, the firm will cut 30% – or 19 positions – of its workforce across the organisation immediately, including in CMC, manufacturing, and research roles.

aTyr Pharma will also implement “additional cost saving measures” ​to free up resources for its investigational therapy ATYR1923 for which a Phase I study has been completed.

The candidate is focused on the development of an engineered Resokine protein to treat immune-mediated diseases. 

“Our goal will be to prioritise clinical development of our 1923 programme,” ​said Shukla.

“Looking ahead to the second half of the year, we expect our cash burn from operations to significantly decrease as a result of this restructuring and our programme prioritisation, providing us with an extended cash runway,” ​he added.

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