Fusion, Cyteir refocus pipelines to funnel cash toward best bets

Fusion Pharmaceuticals and Cyteir Therapeutics have each taken a magnifying glass to their pipeline and reshuffled priorities, shelving or shopping their backup assets. 

Fusion will discontinue development of FPI-1966, packing up a phase 1 trial testing the FGFR3-targeting cancer med in solid tumors, according to the company’s Thursday earnings report. The decision was part of a broader calculation to “focus resources” toward lead asset, FPI-2265. 

The move to ax FPI-1966 comes just a week after the company tacked on a new trial site in Australia, according to an update to the clinical trial record. The drug was a targeted alpha therapy, aiming the isotop actinium-225 at solid tumor cells expressing FGFR3. The trial was authorized by U.S. regulators in July 2021, more than two years after the company hauled in a $105 financing round from the likes of J&J, OrbiMed and Varian. 

Cyteir, meanwhile, is looking to out-license a preclinical polymerase theta inhibitor program, the company said Thursday.

This is not the first time Cyteir has had to rejig its pipeline. Previous prioritization efforts spurred layoffs to a whopping 70% of the team. The company halted plans in January to test lead asset CYT-0851 as a monotherapy, focusing only on the drug’s combination potential with chemotherapy. Cyteir had already decided in August 2022 to shelve CYT-1853 to save cash, which was originally slated to enter the clinic by the end of that year. The biotech now reports having $137.2 million in cash on hand, enough to last into 2026. 

Both Fusion and Cyteir are byproducts of the unrestrained biotech stock market boom of 2020 and 2021. Each raised nine-digit IPOs during that time, with Fusion and Cyteir pricing their shares at $17 and $18, respectively, when they launched. Each has seen its value fall more than 70% since. 

The pipeline decisions underscore investors’ sentiment that companies should prioritize pipeline catalysts and data readouts over depth and options.