To get condensates into clinic next year, Dewpoint narrows headcount and pipeline

Despite losing a couple of Big Pharma collaborators, Dewpoint Therapeutics is gearing up to finally take its lead biologic condensates into the clinic. But the biotech will need to clear out 18 unwanted roles and narrow its pipeline to make space for the right candidates.

Biomolecular condensates are liquidlike droplets comprising proteins and RNA. Dewpoint is built on the idea that these organelles can hold the secret to discovering new therapies for so-called undruggable targets.

One of Dewpoint’s lead programs is focused on colorectal cancer and is likely to be ready to enter the clinic in the first or second quarter of 2025, depending if the company opts for oral or subcutaneous delivery. The biotech then hopes to submit an investigational new drug application to the FDA for an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis program in the second half of next year, CEO Ameet Nathwani, M.D., told Fierce Biotech in an interview.

The company had been running 12 programs in oncology alone, but has decided to keep some “trickling along” to refocus human and financial resources on a select few, Nathwani explained.

“With our condensate approach we can find thousands of targets, so we've got too many targets to prosecute and not enough people,” he added. “So all we did is we took a lot of our own early programs, and we put them on the shelf for the moment.”

It’s for this reason that Dewpoint has decided to cut approximately 18 people this week, which was first reported by STAT yesterday. Many of the positions being jettisoned are research roles tied to the company’s early-stage drug development work, Nathwani said. The layoffs are freeing up the company to “hire clinical development expertise.”

The automation of Dewpoint’s platform has also meant the biotech can jettison some of the “manual” roles that are no longer needed. Instead, the company is on the hunt for a head of development, a couple of AI-related roles and “more translational science expertise.”

“Basically, there's a reduction [in headcount and] there's some increase of new capabilities, probably at a slightly different level,” Nathwani said. “We've kept all the condensate biologists intact, effectively, and then we just put a lot more AI into the system and that therefore requires more AI expertise as well.”

Nathwani insisted that the restructuring was not related to the loss of two Big Pharma partnerships over the past six months. Pfizer dropped its $239 million myotonic dystrophy type 1 collaboration in the middle of last year, which Nathwani attributed to the company’s move away from early-stage rare disease R&D. As a result, Dewpoint brought the program in-house.

“We've just parked it there because we want to discuss with other partners whether they'd be interested to pick that up, but the science is incredibly compelling,” the CEO said.

Meanwhile, Merck & Co. has ended its $305 million pact for an HIV drug, Nathwani confirmed.

“The Merck collaboration was a very specific collaboration on one particular condensate hypothesis in HIV, which took us a long time to unravel and actually was quite interesting data,” the CEO said. “But it was going to take such a long time to turn that biology around that actually they decided strategically it wasn't that important for them.”

Still, Dewpoint secured a $745 million diabetes-focused partnership with Novo Nordisk in March 2023, while an alliance with Bayer to research new treatments for cardiovascular and gynecological diseases is still going strong after more than four years, Nathwani pointed out.

The biotech is still running off the $150 million series C funding that was secured almost two years ago. While the round has paved a long enough cash runway to get Dewpoint’s first candidates into the clinic, Nathwani said that further funds may be needed at some point.

“Depending on the design of the clinical phase, we will probably need to do a capital raise to be able to find compelling proofs of concept,” he said.