Synta Pharmaceuticals is cutting 90 of its 220 employees as it seeks to survive the loss of it's once high-flying melanoma drug elesclomol. The company halted its Phase III trials of the drug in late February after a greater number of people taking elesclomol died than those receiving standard care. Synta says no decisions have been made regarding the drug's future, and that it will continue to analyze data from the Phase III trial.
The layoffs will allow the company to operate with current cash reserves until 2010 without the need for additional equity financing, according to a statement. Synta has five programs in clinical or preclinical development and several others in the discovery stage. It will focus on developing these earlier-stage drugs as it decides what course to take with elesclomol.
"This restructuring is unfortunately a necessity in light of the results of our Phase III clinical trial of elesclomol in metastatic melanoma," said Safi Bahcall, Ph.D., President and CEO of Synta. "...[W]e needed to act now to ensure that Synta has the resources, independent of external financial conditions, to continue to advance our most promising pipeline compounds and research programs. These programs have generated substantial interest among our scientific and medical collaborators, as well as potential pharmaceutical industry partners, and we share our collaborators' excitement for their future potential."
- here's Synta's release