InVivo Therapeutics said it will eliminate 28% of its workforce—14 employees—as part of a restructuring of its R&D in which the company will shift capital from its hydrogel drug delivery program to its Neuro-Spinal Scaffold and the Neuro-Spinal Scaffold Plus Stem Cells program for spinal cord injury (SCI).

“Although reducing staff size and eliminating the hydrogel drug delivery program were difficult decisions, InVivo’s focus will be even stronger on the company’s core mission: developing meaningful treatments for spinal cord injury,” CEO Mark Perrin said in a statement. “This focus will allow InVivo to advance the spinal cord injury programs without distraction and in a more financially efficient manner.”

InVivo said the hydrogel drug delivery program would have required “substantial” financial and human resources would have been needed to address technical and competitive challenges and advance any drug delivery product to the point of partnering with a larger biopharma or launching clinical trials. The company added that it will explore the potential of hydrogel for cell delivery, as part of an expanded biomaterials development program for the delivery of stem cells.

Where R&D is concerned, InVivo said, it will pursue clinical development of its degradable polymer Neuro-Spinal Scaffold. The polymer-based device is intended to promote structural support for spinal cord regeneration, while improving functional recovery and prognosis after a traumatic SCI.

InVivo has launched a first in-human study of the scaffold. The pilot study aims to capture preliminary safety and effectiveness data on the scaffold in up to five patients with acute thoracic spinal cord injury. InVivo’s plans also call for conducting a pivotal study to obtain FDA approval to begin commercialization of the scaffold under a Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE).

Last month, InVivo opened the study’s second site for patients with SCI at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC. The company cited completion of the pilot study as one of several purposes for an underwritten public offering completed in May. InVivo said it received $16.1 million in gross proceeds from its offering of 12.175 million shares of common stock and warrants to purchase up to a total of 6,087,500 shares of common stock, at $1.15 per share of stock, plus $0.00001 per warrant.

The planned layoffs and shifting of R&D spending is expected to save about $3 million annually—and reduce its cash spending by about 23% from the 2013 level, InVivo said, adding: “With these savings, InVivo anticipates that existing funds will be sufficient to support its planned activities through March 2016.”

Founded in 2005, InVivo was founded with technology co-invented by Robert Langer, Sc.D., of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Joseph P. Vacanti, M.D., who is affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital. 

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