Sio confirms gene therapy company will be liquidated after tough year

Sio Gene Therapies has kept its head down since dropping its final two assets and most of its staff in April, but the company has finally confirmed that it’s shutting up shop for good.

The outlook was bleak for the New York-based biotech in the spring, when it terminated a licensing agreement with the University of Massachusetts for its GM1 gangliosidosis and GM2 gangliosidosis gene therapies. Those programs had been in the works since December 2018 as potential treatments for two related neurodegenerative disorders.

Back in April, CEO David Nassif warned of “significant head count reduction,” with one Sio employee telling Fierce Biotech at the time, “I would be shocked if there are five people that are left.”

The company had been hoping that another company would ride to the rescue in the form of a merger or acquisition, but that was not to be. In a post-market announcement yesterday, Sio said that after “extensive and careful consideration of potential strategic alternatives,” the board of directors has concluded they need to liquidate the company.

"The board of directors and management, together with its external advisors, devoted substantial time and effort in identifying and pursuing opportunities to enhance shareholder value,” Nassif said in the release. “However, that process did not yield a potential transaction which the board viewed as reasonably likely to provide greater realizable value to its shareholders than the complete dissolution and liquidation of the company."

The next step is for Sio to call a special meeting of its shareholders in the first quarter of 2023 to seek approval for the plan to dissolve the business.

Sio’s shares closed yesterday at 35 cents apiece, a far cry from the peak interest in its potential Alzheimer’s disease therapy in 2017, when the stock touched $200. The Alzheimer’s candidate ultimately flopped in the clinic, causing Sio, until then known as Axovant, to rebrand.