GlobeImmune axes 'majority' of staffers in wake of trial failure

GlobeImmune CEO Timothy Rodell

Two weeks after GlobeImmune ($GBIM) conceded that its Gilead-partnered hepatitis B vaccine had flunked out of a key Phase II study, the Louisville, CO-based biotech said it laid off "the majority" of its staff.

"Following our recent data announcement in our hepatitis B program, this workforce reduction is a necessary action to conserve working capital and provide maximum flexibility in determining the future direction of GlobeImmune," said GlobeImmune CEO Timothy Rodell in a statement.

Recruiting 178 patients with chronic hep B, GlobeImmune tested GS-4774 in combination with standard oral antivirals, finding that the vaccine charted no improvement in hep B surface antigen levels, a key measure of viral activity, compared to the older drugs alone. At 24 weeks, even the highest doses of GS-4774 failed to meet the study's primary endpoint, GlobeImmune said, though the vaccine did chart a positive--but not statistically significant--effect after 48 weeks.

Pointing to three patients who got the highest dose and posted notable surface antigen reductions, GlobeImmune said at the time that it believed the trial "suggests initial biologic activity" for GS-4774. The vaccine was also safe and well tolerated in the study, the company said.

Investors were less optimistic, sending the company's shares into a meltdown that wiped out half of its market cap.

- here's the release

Damian Garde contributed to this story.