Sector News

ATyr slashes headcount, cuts costs after ORCA runs aground

May 14, 2018
Life sciences

ATyr Pharma is laying off 30% of its staff and otherwise cutting its costs in response to lackluster data. The biotech made the cuts after preclinical data on its anticancer antibodies suggested they lack the required efficacy.

San Diego, California-based aTyr made ORCA its third program after identifying a link between the resokine pathway—the backbone of its pipeline—and the ways tumors evade the immune system. The link suggested aTyr could deploy its knowledge of the resokine pathway to develop that most desirable of assets: a drug that makes checkpoint inhibitors more effective.

ATyr’s belief in the theory was brief. Researchers presented initial data on the program at the start of the year, emboldening aTyr to predict a 2019 move into the clinic. Subsequent readouts put pay to that plan.

Details of the data have yet to emerge, but aTyr said what it learned over the past month suggests its ORCA antibodies lack the efficacy to advance. That prompted aTyr to call off IND-enabling activities and layoff staff. ATyr’s diminished resources are now focused on its last hope, ATYR1923.

ORCA’s importance to aTyr grew last year when the biotech made it one of the focal points of its R&D. Resolaris, a treatment for rare muscular dystrophies, used to be the top priority at aTyr, but the company dialed down its interest after getting a look at early clinical data. With Resolaris on the backburner, ORCA and ATYR1923 stepped into the limelight.

The two-pronged R&D focus was short lived, though. ATYR1923 is the only one game in town for the newly slimmed-down aTyr.

“Going forward, we are primarily focused on ATYR1923 and designing a future patient trial which will be influenced by data from our ongoing phase I trial, translational activities and research related to the role of the receptor for ATYR1923,” aTyr CEO Sanjay Shukla, M.D., said in a statement.

ATyr had $74.1 million in the bank as of the end of March.

By Nick Paul Taylor

Source: Fierce Biotech

Related News

February 21, 2021

Sanofi invests in health tech firm Novadiscovery, boosting trial simulation platform and COVID-19 work

Life sciences

Novadiscovery uses its so-called JINKO platform that runs disease models on virtual patients to support decision-making and de-risk clinical development.

February 21, 2021

Gilead lets local HIV community groups take the lead with $3M grant

Life sciences

The pharma is pledging $3.2 million over two years to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization in the U.S.

February 21, 2021

Biotech company funds research project on diversity

Life sciences

In collaboration with Genmab, a new anthropological postdoc project at the Department of Anthropology will now explore and help develop the company’s efforts to ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Send this to a friend