Cytos slashes staff after vaccine fails key trial

Shares of Switzerland's Cytos Biotechnology tanked after the developer said its high blood pressure vaccine failed a mid-stage trial. Cytos now says it will hand out pink slips to 42 percent of its work force--eliminating 57 jobs. The company's shares slid 33.5 percent on the news.

"That's a blow to the company," the analyst Olav Zilian told Dow Jones. "This is the first official failure of the company's approach to target substances that are produced by the human body itself."

Cytos says it will now delay another planned mid-stage trial so it can take a second look at the Phase IIa data for CYT006-AngQb. The hypertension vaccine failed to significantly reduce blood pressure in the study. That failure will also at least temporarily halt Cytos' efforts to ink a partnership deal on the vaccine, which it had hoped to complete following positive mid-stage data.

Bad news for Cytos could be good news for BTG, which is also developing a blood pressure vaccine. But at least one analyst fretted that Cytos' failure could mean that BTG is following the wrong track as well.

- see Cytos' release
- check out the Dow Jones story