Renovo axing 100, auctioning assets after Shire dumps failed Juvista program

Abandoned by its partner and staring at the conclusive failure of its lead drug in Phase III, the UK's Renovo has slammed the brakes on spending. The developer says it will lay off 100 workers in a broad restructuring that includes the possible sale of virtually all of its clinical assets.

Shire bailed last night, according to a statement from Renovo, terminating its license--which it landed three years ago in an $825 million pact--and handing back the rights to the anti-scarring drug Juvista. And Renovo is shelving its own work on the drug after concluding "the efficacy of Juvista is insufficient to demonstrate significant benefit when tested in a broad population of scar revision patients."

"We are extremely surprised and disappointed with the Juvista Phase III trial result in scar revision surgery.  The Board is seeking to maximize shareholder value from the remaining assets of Renovo," said CEO Mark Ferguson. Renovo also said that it would curtail recruitment in an ongoing trial of another drug, Adaprev, and will consider selling that program along with Juvista, Juvidex, Prevascar and all its preclinical assets.

The Juvista catastrophe is just one in a series of heavy blows to the UK biotech industry this quarter. Antisoma appears to have run into a brick wall with its second late-stage failure in a year. And the country is still considering how to recover from Pfizer's decision to shutter operations in Sandwich as it downsizes R&D.

- see the Renovo release