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German biotech Wilex slashes staff after Phase III misfire

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The German biotech Wilex has decided to restructure and cut about a quarter of its staff in Munich, where the company is headquartered. The decision comes less than two months after its lead cancer drug crashed and burned in a late-stage study in patents with kidney cancer.

Wilex saw its hopes dashed for its experimental drug Rencarex as an adjuvant therapy for clear cell renal cell carcinoma after patients on placebo in its Phase III "ARISER" study survived disease-free for longer than expected or is normal based on previous findings, the biotech said on Tuesday. The company (a 2005 Fierce 15 company) has axed the program based on the disappointing results.

The developer has decided to cut about 25% of its workforce in Munich while sparing staff at its operations in Cambridge, MA, and Ladenburg, Germany. The publicly traded company, which has been the beneficiary of investment from German mogul Dietmar Hopp, says that the move help the company preserve cash that totaled 23 million euros as of Nov. 30, providing reserves to keep the company afloat until the second quarter of 2014.

"It is painful for us in the Executive Management Board to have to make staff redundant," said Prof. Olaf Wilhelm, CEO of Wilex, in a statement. He later added: "However, we firmly believe that by modifying our cost structure and pursuing future-oriented business model we can, in the medium term, return to a situation in which we see our enterprise value rise."

To improve its financial status, the company plans to boost its efforts on the partnership front. It touted a program to advance antibody-drug conjugate technology, developmental therapeutics in early- to mid-stage trials, and an antibody-based imaging in vivo diagnostic called Redectane in Phase III development.

- here's the release

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