Gemini CEO out the door as 80% of staff laid off, strategic review gets underway

Gemini season came quite early for a biotech of the same name. The CEO of Gemini Therapeutics exited Monday as the company laid off 80% of its staff, shifted priorities to a preclinical asset and began searching for a future.

This is the second reprioritization for Gemini in less than six months. The company changed things up in October to focus on late-stage plans for its eye disease drug. But that was short-lived, and the biotech has now left the future of its clinical asset in doubt without explanation. The biotech has also begun evaluating strategic alternatives. 

A Gemini spokesperson did not immediately return phone and email requests for comment. 

The latest layoffs in biotech, which seem to be a weekly doom-and-gloom tradition at this point in 2022, affect 24 employees at Gemini, the company said Monday. President and CEO Jason Meyenburg also departed, the biotech said, as Executive Chair Georges Gemayel, Ph.D., assumes the vacant roles on an interim basis. Restructuring charges will land in the $1.6 million to $1.9 million range, Gemini disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

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Gemini let go of 20% of its staff last year, including Chief Scientific Officer Walter Strapps, Ph.D.

The "remote-first" biotech will complete the latest workforce cull by the end of the second quarter while remaining employees focus on a preclinical potentiating antibody, GEM307, for systemic renal diseases.

That means the future of Gemini's only clinical-stage asset, GEM103, is now up in the air. With no details on why Gemini shifted to focus on the preclinical asset, investors are left to wonder what happened since Jan. 10, when the company said it would evaluate the drug's future. 

GEM103 was tested in two phase 2a trials in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with or at risk for macular atrophy and people with wet AMD. The two studies "acheived their intended purpose" of testing GEM103's safety and tolerability, according to the Jan. 10 update, but the company did not at that time commit to advancing the therapies to further testing.

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Gemini raised $216 million in proceeds when it went public with blank check firm FS Development, sponsored by Foresite Capital, 12 months ago. The biotech has slipped precipituously since hitting Wall Street, falling to $1.46 per share as of 11:56 a.m. ET Monday.