StemCells axes 20 staffers as it conserves cash for trial work

StemCells ($STEM) could use some of the same financial support that Geron has just won. Faced with steep costs for the clinical development of its neural stem cell treatment for spinal cord injuries, Palo Alto, CA-based StemCells trimmed 20 workers from its staff, eliminating close to a third of its workforce in a cost-cutting effort aimed at slowing its burn rate.

CEO Martin McGlynn told analysts that the layoffs mark the latest in several moves aimed at slowing the burn. The developer has cut the cost of cell manufacturing and recently leased cheaper digs. The biotech also announced a first-quarter loss of $5.7 million in the first quarter of this year compared to $6.1 million in red ink for the same period a year ago. StemCells lead program is in a Phase I/II clinical trial being conducted in Switzerland.

"Now, with multiple clinical trials underway and others soon to begin, we will be generating clinical data regarding the therapeutic potential of our HuCNS-SC cells as these trials run their course," says McGlynn. "We anticipate that this reduction in force, combined with other initiatives to reduce our infrastructure and overhead costs, will put our burn rate on a downward trajectory for the next several years as we reap the rewards of those earlier investments."

StemCells reported last summer that it had gathered positive animal data on its neural stem cell treatment for lost motor function.

- check out the StemCells release
- here's the story from the San Francisco Business Times