SCOOP: Eisai closing oncology R&D wing H3 Biomedicine for good

Eisai’s oncology wing, H3 Biomedicine, is closing up shop for good, with the Japanese pharma saying that after 12 years, the work of the venture is “complete.” 

The news was relayed to Fierce Biotech by a spokesperson for Eisai after H3 disclosed it was laying off dozens of staffers in a Massachusetts workforce report. The company says 88 people are being laid off due to the shutdown, adding that packing up was a “difficult decision, as H3 has been an important and innovative discovery and development engine since it was established in 2010.” The work at H3 will now be shifted to Eisai’s Deep Human Biology Learning organization. 

H3 had been plowing ahead with four clinical-stage programs, including lead asset H3B-6545 in a phase 2 trial for breast cancer. In May 2021, H3 released data showing the therapy spurred a 17% overall response rate and 32% clinical benefit rate, a measure that combines the rate of patients that exhibited either stable disease or a response to treatment. The company had also signed onto a couple of research collaborations, including one with Bristol Myers Squibb. 

“With these achievements, H3 has validated the founding concept for the company and this venture is complete,” the company said in a statement. 

The decision is part of a larger reorganization of Eisai that includes launching the Global Alzheimer’s Disease & Brain Health organization. The company is working on Alzheimer's with Biogen, which also revealed a cut of about 300 employees in recent months on Monday.

The two companies teamed up to develop Aduhelm, which was controversially approved by the FDA last year, resulting in a lackluster rollout and restricted coverage by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Biogen had warned that layoffs were coming but specifics remained unknown until now. The two companies are also working on a follow-up Alzheimer's med called lecanemab. 

To read more about layoffs across the biotech industry, check out Fierce Biotech's Layoff Tracker.