ImmunoGen cuts deep to eke out cash for mirvetuximab trial

ImmunoGen is set to layoff 220 employees and stop some R&D activities. The deep cuts are designed to make ImmunoGen’s $240 million cash pile last past the delivery of phase 3 mirvetuximab data in the first half of 2022.

In recent months, ImmunoGen has been rocked by the failure of anti-FRα antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) mirvetuximab in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer and the FDA’s unwillingness to approve the asset on the strength of existing data. The setbacks forced ImmunoGen to reconsider its spending plans, which originally called for it to run its cash reserves down to $140 million by the end of the year. 

Now, ImmunoGen has revealed how it plans to make its money last longer. ImmunoGen is set to get rid of around 220 employees, most of whom will leave the company by the middle of next month.

The layoffs will significantly reduce the size of ImmunoGen. At the end of 2018, ImmunoGen had 296 full-time staffers, 240 of whom worked in R&D, suggesting the cuts will affect around three-quarters of employees. The cuts will leave ImmunoGen with excess lab and office space it plans to sub-lease.

ImmunoGen’s remaining staff will work to start the additional mirvetuximab study demanded by the FDA by the end of the year and continue to enroll and follow up subjects in an ongoing combination trial of the ADC. 

Assets partnered with Jazz Pharmaceuticals and MacroGenics survived the cull, too, as did a follow-up anti-FRα ADC that ImmunoGen plans to move into development around the middle of next year. 

ImmunoGen plans to try to sell or outlicense its remaining candidates and platform technologies. The most advanced drug to get the chop is IMGN779, an anti-CD33 ADC that entered the clinic in 2016. ImmunoGen is suspending all research activities, leaving early-stage programs against cancer targets including cMet in limbo. 

The major restructuring positions ImmunoGen to roll the dice on mirvetuximab again. The drug is the latest in a string of folate-targeting molecules to fail clinical tests. But ImmunoGen saw a glimmer of hope in the data on patients who expressed high levels of FRα, encouraging it to make the changes needed to bankroll a second monotherapy trial targeting the subpopulation.