Finch halts biotherapeutic trial and axes 95 per cent of its staff

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Clinical trial Pharmaceutical industry Biotherapeutics Food and drug administration C. difficile

Finch Therapeutics announced its shock decision to discontinue the PRISM4 Phase 3 trial of CP101 in recurrent C. difficile infection (CDI) yesterday (Jan 25) saying instead it will focus on ‘realizing the value of its intellectual property estate and other assets’.

The company is also getting rid of 95% of its staff, most leaving by the end of next month (February).

These were very difficult decisions that we determined were necessary after carefully considering a number of factors and challenges facing Finch,” ​said Mark Smith, PhD, chief executive officer of Finch Therapeutics.

This decision, the company says, follows an assessment by its management team and board of directors of several factors, including the company’s outlook for securing additional capital or partnerships to help fund the CP101 program through important milestones, slower than anticipated enrolment in the PRISM4 trial, the harmful impact of ongoing unauthorized use of the company’s intellectual property, and broader sector trends.

As a result of this decision, Finch confirmed it is reducing its workforce by approximately 95% though some roles are expected to be maintained into May 2023 to support the company’s new focus and continued evaluation of opportunities to create value for shareholders.

In December 2021, Ferring Pharmaceuticals filed a complaint with a US court seeking a declaration that its live biotherapeutic drug candidate had not infringed seven patents held by Finch Therapeutics and that original Finch patents could not be enforced.

Ferring and Finch are competitors with late-stage therapeutic candidates that address recurrent Clostridioides difficileinfection (CDI). Both companies’ products consist of complex microbial communities originating from healthy donor fecal samples.

The patents related to Finch’s live biotherapeutic drug candidate RBX2660 that was being trialled in the phase 3 clinical trial.

Swiss-based, global company Ferring acquired microbiome-focused company Rebiotix Inc. in 2018. 

In February 2021 Finch undertook an S-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, in preparation for a forthcoming Initial Public Offering. In the S-1 document, Finch made forward-looking statements and outlined the competitive space, including how it would “actively enforce” its patent rights.

At this point, Ferring said Finch brought attention to the fact they had patents directed to FMT products which they intended to enforce aggressively against competitors including Ferring’s Rebiotix. Ferring took action to clear the path for further development of its live biotherapeutic candidate to remove any concerns that Finch may claim patent infringement in the future.

Finch has a portfolio of microbiome assets including CP101, an investigational orally administered microbiome candidate with positive data from a phase 2 placebo-controlled trial and a phase 2 open-label trial in recurrent CDI. Additionally, it has pre-clinical microbiome assets that are designed to target ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and autism spectrum disorder. Finch has a robust intellectual property estate reflecting the company’s pioneering role in the microbiome therapeutics field, including more than 70 issued US and foreign patents with critical relevance for both donor-derived and donor-independent microbiome therapeutics in a range of potential indications.

Smith added: “I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to all the Finch team members who dedicated their passion and talent to pursuing our mission of harnessing the microbiome to serve patients in need. I would also like to sincerely thank the patients, study investigators, and study staff who participated in our trials and helped advance this important research in a promising new field of medicine​.”

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