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Immuno-oncology company Agenus to cut 50 jobs in reorganization

Published 31 March 2017

Clinical-stage immuno-oncology firm Agenus is reorganizing its business and operations to straighten its focus on clinical development of its two checkpoint inhibitor antibodies and vaccine program.

Agenus plans to close its Basel site and consolidate key functions to its Cambridge, UK and Lexington, MA facilities, and phase out approximately 50 positions across the organization. Additionally, Robert Stein, M.D., Ph.D., President of R&D, will retire to become a senior R&D advisor exclusive to Agenus.

Agenus' goals for this realignment are to:

  • Accelerate development and commercialization of its product portfolio to drive shareholder value
  • Further extend the Company's cash runway beyond the impact from the recently amended Incyte partnership, which strengthened the balance sheet by $80 million and reduced development expenses
  • Consolidate operations to improve R&D efficiencies 
  • Ensure commercial readiness and manufacturing

Prioritized programs include combination therapies targeting CTLA-4 and PD-1. In addition, Agenus will continue to drive its innovative immuno-oncology portfolio towards clinical development with two preclinical antibodies targeting 4-1BB and TIGIT, as well as AutoSynVax, a clinical-stage neoantigen cancer vaccine.

The Company is exploring combination studies with AutoSynVax and Agenus' checkpoint antibodies. Substantial focus will also be placed on the Company's manufacturing operations in Berkeley, CA to ensure GMP readiness. This is particularly pertinent as Agenus progresses its clinical registration trials with an intent to commercialize within the next four years.

As part of the restructuring, approximately 50 positions are planned to be phased out within the next six months. In addition, the Company will transition or consolidate certain key management positions, with the objective of streamlining leadership and reducing costs.

Dr. Armen said: "These changes to our organizational structure make us a leaner and more focused organization, which is critically important for our next phase of advancement towards commercial readiness.

“We will also maintain a focused R&D effort to rapidly generate and develop best of breed novel immuno-oncology candidates. It is important to indicate that as an agile and efficient company we aim to rapidly deliver effective treatments at affordable prices.”

Having built an extraordinary R&D capability for Agenus and spearheaded the advancement of five programs from discovery to clinical stage in the last three years, Dr. Robert Stein will be retiring from his current role as President of R&D and will become a senior R&D advisor to Agenus.

The current R&D leadership, which has been assembled under his tutelage, will continue to have access to Dr. Stein for strategic R&D guidance.

Dr. Armen added: "We are grateful to Dr. Stein for his outstanding leadership and contributions in defining and building our research engine.

"I look forward to continuing to work with him very closely in the future. I would also like to acknowledge the contributions of our other colleagues who will be departing the Agenus organization."

Source: Company Press Release