Heat Biologics to slash staff by a fifth, cut more than half of patients in cancer trial

An axe in a stump
(Rebecca Siegel / CC BY 2.0)

Another day, another biotech announces "cost-saving measures"--this time, it's immuno-oncology specialist Heat Biologics ($HTBX) wielding the ax.

The Durham, NC-based biotech said in a statement that it will be cutting around 22% of its total workforce and completely removing compensation for the remaining leadership team. Heat also announced the voluntary resignation of two of its board members.

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To further save money, Heat will now only put through 8 patients currently enrolled in its Phase 1b clinical trial of HS-110 in non-small cell lung cancer, instead of the full 18 patients it originally planned. 

Heat said it now intends to "focus its resources to achieve the important near-term milestones" for its two product candidates HS-110 and the Phase II treatment HS-410 for nonmuscle invasive bladder cancer--both of which are expecting top line data in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The cuts come just two weeks after the thinly traded nano cap raised $6.8 million via an IPO of more than 9 million shares, which itself came after the FDA lifted the partial clinical hold on its HS-410 Phase II trial--which the company said was not due to safety or efficacy concerns.

"We remain committed to advancing our lead clinical program for HS-410 and the focused reductions announced today extend our cash runway to reach significant inflection points expected later this year," said Jeff Wolf, Heat's founder and CEO. 

"While difficult, these cost-saving measures are necessary. We are truly grateful for the meaningful contributions of the talented individuals impacted."

This comes after a tough week for a number of smaller biotechs, with MA-based Bind Therapeutics ($BIND) announcing yesterday a 38% cut of its staff as it considers whether to sell the company, while San Diego HQ'd Apricus Biosciences ($APRI) also announced this week that it be shedding nearly all of its research projects and cutting 30% of its staff after the failure of its key testosterone drug last month.

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