Cell therapy biotech lays off 25% of staff citing difficult funding environment

Cell therapy biotech Neurona has laid off a quarter of its staff, or 18 of 68 total employees, a spokesperson confirmed with Fierce Biotech.

The layoffs were the result of a financial review and portfolio prioritization designed to “streamline budget in the face of the current tight funding environment and extend available cash to support the ongoing clinical trial of NRTX-1001,” according to the spokesperson.

NRTX-1001 is an off-the-shelf, one-time administration therapy being assessed in a phase 1/2 trial for epilepsy. The therapy is designed to reduce seizures and repair affected neural networks in patients with drug-resistant focal epilepsy. The trial, which aims to enroll 40 participants, was launched in 2022 and has an estimated primary completion date of May 2025.

The program, which is currently Neurona’s only asset in clinical development, is also being evaluated in preclinical research for Alzheimer’s disease.

The private biotech held its latest fundraising in June 2021, scooping up $41.5 million in a round co-led by UCB Ventures and The Column Group. In May of 2022, the company also received an $8 million grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

“This was a difficult decision for the company as it is always hard to let talented employees go,” the Neurona spokesperson said.

The private biotech is far from the first to announce workforce reductions this year. At least 18 other biopharmas have reported layoffs in 2023, according to Fierce Biotech’s Layoff Tracker, with five already in the first week of February.