Biopharma GenVec is cutting 30% of its workforce to save cash, and says the loss of 23 employees will allow it to continue funding its operations through the third quarter of 2014, even without any milestone payments it may receive through an ongoing collaboration with Novartis. The firm said it had about $20.9 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments at the end of the second quarter 2012. The workforce reduction program will incur about $0.66 million in expenses.

“While it is a difficult decision to eliminate positions in our talented and dedicated workforce, this move is necessary to ensure that our costs are more closely aligned with our resources and business strategy,” states Cynthia Collins, president and CEO. “Expenses are being reduced in virtually all areas, but we have focused on limiting the impact of our collaboration with Novartis to develop treatments for hearing loss and balance disorders.”

GenVec is exploiting its adenovector gene delivery platform to develop therapeutics and vaccines against a range of diseases and disorders. The firm’s strategy is to work with the industry, governments, and other organizations to support a range of preventative and therapeutic programs. Its ongoing pipeline includes therapeutic product candidates against hearing loss and balance disorders; as well as vaccines against infectious diseases including respiratory syncytial virus, herpes simplex virus, dengue fever, influenza, malaria, and HIV.

At the start of 2010 GenVec and Novartis signed a potentially $213.6 million worldwide licensing and collaboration agreement to discover and develop novel treatments for hearing loss and balance disorders. By the end of 2011 the firms had reached a second milestone in the partnership related to completion of specific preclinical development work.

GenVec won an approximately $590,000 Phase I SBIR grant from the NIAID in May to support its RSV vaccine program. A couple of months earlier the firm was awarded a $600,000 NIAID grant to help continue funding its malaria vaccine program, building on research initiated under an SBIR grant in 2009. 

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