After reaching a high with $12B valuation, Biosplice lays off staff and axes baldness program

After reaching a $12 billion valuation in 2018, Biosplice appears to be falling back down to Earth, and its workforce is taking the brunt. 

The company is laying off 41 workers, according to a Tuesday announcement. The San Diego biotech also culled a male pattern baldness drug from its pipeline. 

Biosplice raised $438 million in 2018 (then known as Samumed), second in private financing that year only to none other than Moderna. Ikea's venture arm—yes, the shopping giant behind those famed meatballs and Billy bookcases—backed the biotech that stayed undercover from 2008 to 2016. Biosplice secured another $120 million (PDF) in financing in April 2021.

Chief Financial Officer Erich Horsley did not respond to phone and email requests for comment as of publication. 

RELATED: Haisco to pay $140M to get the ball rolling on Biosplice's phase 3 osteoarthritis drug in China

The workforce reduction was confirmed by a California Employment Development Department database, which shows Biosplice notified the agency Dec. 9, 2021, that the layoffs would take place Feb. 8 of this year. Nearly half of the affected employees were on Biosplice's clinical operations team. 

The hair loss treatment, dubbed dalosirvat, was sliced from Biosplice's pipeline sometime between August and November 2021, according to webpage archives. The topical small molecule was in a phase 2/3 clinical trial of 675 patients with androgenetic alopecia. Final data for the primary outcome of the therapy were collected in December 2020, and Biosplice submitted a certification or extension request Dec. 23, 2021, which could give the biotech up to another year or two before it must submit results, according to

Biosplice's future largely rests on lorecivivint, a late-stage knee osteoarthritis treatment that wrapped up two phase 3 trials in autumn 2021 and is in another long-term safety and efficacy study.

The biotech received a boost for the investigational treatment from Haisco Pharmaceutical, which said it would pay up to $140 million to license the topical drug in China in September 2021. Samil Pharmaceutical will also dole out $70 million in exchange for rights to develop and commercialize lorecivivint in Korea, the companies said in April 2021.