Trouble brewing at Bind Therapeutics as major cuts announced

Bind CEO Andrew Hirsch

Bind Therapeutics ($BIND) will cut its workforce by more than a third and may need to seek new capital to keep going as it announces that it will be stopping one trial and will need a partner to continue the second. 

The Cambridge, MA-based biotech released data for its nanoparticle Bind-014 Phase II iNSITE 1 trial in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) of squamous histology, as well as the iNSITE 2 trial in cervical and head and neck cancers.

This candidate is being developed via the company's Accurins platform technology--a nano-engineered targeting mechanism that binds to tumor cells and delivers a toxic payload with limited damage to nearby healthy tissue.

In the first study, BIND-014 demonstrated a 52.5%, 6-week disease control rate for the intent-to-treat population and a 70% in the per protocol population, which exceeded the protocol defined criteria for success of 65 percent.

Cancer specialist Bind has chalked this up as a success, saying it intends to seek "licensing or collaboration" opportunities for further development of BIND-014 in NSCLC.

Meanwhile, in the first stage of the iNSITE 2 trial and for the primary endpoint, BIND-014 demonstrated an objective response rate of 10% in the head and neck cancer cohort--but there were no objective responses in the cervical cancer cohort.

Based on these weaker results, the biotech said will now halt further enrollment in the iNSITE 2 trial in advanced cervical and head and neck cancers.

The company has tried to put a positive spin on the data, describing parts of it as "intriguing"--but these studies have clearly been a disappointment for the company. Bind has now released an adjoining statement saying that following these results--and in connection with its previously announced shift in its R&D strategy--it will cut its workforce by 38% by the end of the month, after which it will have just 61 employees.

Bind is also "evaluating its options" for the drugmaker's subsidiary (known as BIND) in Moscow, Russia. Taken together, the biotech hopes this will cut its quarterly cash burn rate to around $6 million per quarter by the third quarter of 2016.

"This workforce reduction is a necessary action to bring our operating costs to a more sustainable level, allowing the ongoing development of our pipeline of innovative therapeutic candidates that address challenges small molecule chemistry or antibody engineering have not been able to overcome," explained Andrew Hirsch, president and CEO of Bind.

"Furthermore, our decision to continue development of BIND-014 with a collaborator was based on the fact that recent advances in the treatment paradigm for second-line solid tumors have shifted the development, regulatory and reimbursement pathway for BIND-014 such that the capital and resources required to execute on this strategy are more appropriate in collaboration with a larger company."

And that's not all, as Bind also announced it is now working with an investment bank to "initiate a review of financial and strategic alternatives with the goal of maximizing stockholder value".

This, the company said, will see it explore a number of options, including raising more capital and setting up a series of collaborations. Bind is even considering whether to license, sell or divest of some of the company's proprietary technologies.

The company said: "Pending a decision to undertake any financial or strategic alternatives, Bind is continuing its development and collaboration activities in accordance with its current innovative medicines strategy while managing its cash position. There is no finite timetable for completion of the financial and strategic review process."

This all comes after a series of mixed bag results from its nanoparticle candidates over the last year, with one prostate cancer indication study being ditched--all of which has seen its shares take a sharp turn downward. The company was down 28% this morning on the news of its latest results.  

Bind currently has a number of ongoing collaborations with Big Pharma, including Pfizer ($PFE) AstraZeneca ($AZN), Roche ($RHHBY) and Merck ($MRK), predominately using the Accurins platform for early-stage oncology targets.

- see the release