Affimed reveals 25% of staff were laid off in April in wake of phase 2 lymphoma fail

April was a tricky month for Affimed. We already knew that a phase 2 fail prompted the end of plans to develop a bispecific antibody as a monotherapy in lymphoma. Now, Affimed has revealed that the resulting reorganization also meant a quarter of its employees were shown the exit.

The “approximately” 25% reduction in full-time equivalent head count last month was the result of focusing operations on Affimed's three remaining clinical programs, the company disclosed in a first-quarter earnings report this morning.

On that front, the company had better news to report today in the form of FDA clearance to begin a phase 2 study of AFM13 in combination with Artiva Biotherapeutics' AB-101 natural killer (NK) cells in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This suggests that there’s still a potential path for the bispecific antibody as a combo treatment, after it failed last month to demonstrate statistical significance in increasing survival when given as a monotherapy.

Data updates are also expected this year from three ongoing studies of the biotech’s bispecific EGFR/CD16A innate cell engager, dubbed AFM24, in various oncology indications including non-small cell lung cancer, colorectal cancer and advanced epidermal growth factor receptor-expressing solid tumors.

The final third of Affimed’s clinical portfolio is AFM28, a tetravalent, bispecific CD123- and CD16A-binding innate cell engager that’s in a phase 1 trial as a monotherapy in patients with CD123-positive acute myeloid leukemia. The company also plans to test the therapy in combination with NK cells.

To fund these operations, the Heidelberg, Germany-based biotech ended March with 155.8 million euros ($168 million) in cash and equivalents, which is expected to last into 2025.