Firm aims to partner all development programs including suspended clinical-stage HIV candidate.

Myriad Pharmaceuticals is cutting its workforce and putting the brakes on all development programs outside the oncology field. The company believes this will stretch its financial resources beyond 2013 and refocus its attention on cancer therapeutics. 

Among the pipeline products being put on hold is the Phase II-stage HIV I viral maturation inhibitor, MPC-4326. The firm says that it is looking for partners for all of its preclinical and clinical programs.

The Myriad workforce, meanwhile, is being reduced by 21. Casualties will include the commercial operations team and the firm’s svp of development and vp of human resources. Thirty jobs in total will have been lost at Myriad since July 2009.

As part of its decision to focus its efforts on its oncology pipeline, Myriad has confirmed plans to expand the clinical development program for its lead small molecule microtubule destabilizing compound, Azixa™, with the initiation of a two-armed temozolomide combination study for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme. The company will also continue to develop its orally bioavailable Hsp90 inhibitor, MPC-3100, and has designated a novel nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (Nampt) inhibitor, MPC-9528, as a new IND candidate.

Myriad had $148.4 million in cash, cash equivalents, and marketed securities as of March 31, 2010. Since then, the firm received another $12.7 million in relation to the termination in April of a previously announced merger agreement with Javelin Pharmaceuticals.

Azixa is in development for the treatment of advanced cancers involving the brain and is undergoing evaluation in three Phase II trials. Positive data from two of these, evaluating Azixa as combination therapy with temozoloimde in metastatic melanoma, and as a treatment for recurrent glioblastoma in combination with carboplatin, were reported at the recent ASCO meeting. The third Phase II trial, which started in the second quarter of 2009, is an open-label study assessing Azixa as monotherapy in recurrent glioblastoma multiforme.

MPC-3100 is currently undergoing Phase I development. Results from the trial are expected during the second half of this year, Myriad reports. Data from preclinical trials with MPC-9528 (previously MPI-0486348), meanwhile, were presented at the AACR meeting in April. The firm expects to complete development of the compound by the end of 2010 and progress MPC-9528 into the clinic.

Myriad in addition confirmed that in April its shareholders approved changing the company’s name to Myrexis. The name-change is expected to be effected at about the beginning of July.

Myriad believes the combined move to focus on cancer and cut its workforce will help maximize returns on its investments, remarks Adrian Hobden, Ph.D., CEO. “Both MPC-4326 and the novel, preclinical maturation inhibitor, MPI-0461359, have demonstrated promising safety and efficacy profiles. However, we have decided to suspend further development of these HIV compounds and will seek to partner these compounds as we apply our human and financial resources to our cancer programs.”

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