ReNeuron lays off 40% of staff after funding failure, buying time to execute exosome pivot

ReNeuron lays off 40% of staff after funding failure, buying time to execute exosome pivot

Iain Ross has made an immediate mark on ReNeuron, overseeing a restructuring to reduce the British biotech’s head count by 40% within weeks of taking the reins. The cuts extend the stem cell player’s cash runway out to 2024, partly easing the pressures that built up as it struggled to raise money last year.

ReNeuron changed direction one year ago, stopping work on a human retinal progenitor cell treatment for an eye disease that was in midphase development to focus its resources on its exosome platform and associated collaborations. The change bought the biotech time, but, in December, it revealed attempts to pull off an equity raise and thereby solidify its financial position had failed.

Things moved quickly after hopes of raising money evaporated. Two weeks ago, Catherine Isted, who took over as CEO in September, stepped down with immediate effect. Ross, previously the nonexecutive chairman, took up the position of executive chairman to lead ReNeuron in the wake of Isted’s exit.

ReNeuron revealed Ross would oversee a restructuring at the time of his appointment. Now, we know how deep the executive chairman has cut. The changes have cost 40% of ReNeuron’s staff their jobs. The biotech employed (PDF) 36 people in its 2022 financial year, 29 of whom worked in R&D. By laying off staff and lowering “overall variable costs,” ReNeuron has put itself on track to keep going into next year.

The remaining R&D staff will use the time to generate data to support ReNeuron’s pivot to its CustomEX delivery platform, which generates exosomes for getting siRNA, mRNA, proteins, small molecules and genes to specific tissues.

“Strategically, the goal is to achieve the commercial validation of our CustomEX delivery platform and in order to do this we will generate in vivo data aimed at clearly differentiating our platform from that of our competitors. We aim to demonstrate the effective uptake, biodistribution and functionality of cargo delivered by CustomEX,” Ross said in a statement.

There is no room at the new-look ReNeuron for legacy assets such as stem cell therapy candidates that were once central to its plans. Ross will discontinue, out-license or dispose of all the unwanted assets, the company confirmed.

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