Aveo guts its R&D operation, cutting two-thirds of its payroll

Battered by a string of clinical failures, Aveo Oncology ($AVEO) is cutting the cord on its internal research operation, ditching two-thirds of its staff and shaking up the C suite. The Cambridge, MA, biotech plans to cut 40 positions by Jan. 15, leaving it with just 20 workers. Aveo's exit from R&D means Chief Scientific Officer Jeno Gyuris is out, and CEO Tuan Ha-Ngoc has left the top spot to chair the company's board. With no researchers to pay or labs to maintain, Aveo expects to save about $6 million in annual payroll expenses and reduce its footprint by 80%. Former Chief Business Officer Michael Bailey, who takes over for Ha-Ngoc, said the decision to ditch Aveo's research operation was "particularly difficult" but that "it is critical that we focus on streamlining operations by aligning our current resources with our future needs." That means doing everything it can to find partners or buyers for its remaining assets, including the Astellas-abandoned tivozanib; AV-203, which ex-collaborator Biogen Idec ($BIIB) returned last year; AV-380, a preclinical treatment for cancer-related weight loss; and ficlatuzumab, a drug that missed a key endpoint in a 2012 trial in non-small cell lung cancer. Release