BIND Therapeutics said today it will eliminate 38% of its workforce—leaving the company with 61 employees—under a restructuring that follows a shift in R&D strategy and mixed results in two Phase II studies for its lead candidate.
The layoffs will be “substantially complete” by the end of April, the company said.
“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,” BIND Therapeutics President and CEO Andrew Hirsch said in a statement.
In its Form 10-K annual report for 2015, filed March 15, BIND said it had 103 full-time employees as of December 31, 2015. Of those staffers, 78 were primarily engaged in R&D activities, the company said.
BIND aims to develop a new class of highly selective targeted and programmable therapeutics called Accurins®, polymeric nanoparticles engineered to target specific cells and tissues in the body at sites of disease.
The company recently shifted its R&D focus toward developing innovative medicines that incorporate unique combinations of novel tumor-directed targeting ligands and new classes of payloads, including oligonucleotides and molecularly targeted therapies. The shift followed the appointment of Jonathan Yingling, Ph.D., as CSO.
Hirsch said BIND will seek licensing or collaboration partners to continue development of its lead candidate BIND-014, a prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA)-targeted Accurin containing docetaxel, in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
BIND is basing that decision on favorable results in the Phase II iNSITE 1 trial, assessing BIND-014 in advanced NSCLC of squamous histology. BIND-014 demonstrated a 70.0% 6-week disease control rate (6wDCR) in the trial’s per protocol population of 30 patients, above the company’s 65% criterion for success.
A strategic collaboration with one or more partners is among options BIND is studying in a review of financial and strategic alternatives being conducted with an undisclosed investment bank. Other options include raising additional capital and the licensing, sale, or divestiture of some of the company’s proprietary technologies.
Those assets include the Aurora B Kinase inhibitor Accurin AZD2811, the second Accurin candidate to enter clinical development. It is being developed through a collaboration with AstraZeneca.
BIND said it had no timetable for completing its financial and strategic review.
BIND-014 was the subject of two Phase II trials whose preliminary topline results BIND shared today. The other study was iNSITE 2, which assessed the lead candidate in cervical and head and neck cancers.
In the first stage of iNSITE 2, the company said, BIND-014 demonstrated an objective response rate of 10% in the head and neck cancer cohort of 20 patients—but no objective responses in the cervical cancer cohort of 23 patients; the primary endpoint was at least one response in the first 20 patients.
On the basis of those results, BIND has halted further enrollment in iNSITE 2.
The company said it expects to present further details from the trials at an unspecified upcoming medical meeting.