Targacept is to further cut the size of its workforce after another major trial clinical failure in its R&D pipeline.
The US company had already announced in April, 2012, it would cut 65 jobs, but this number is set to increase by an undisclosed number after its investigational attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug TC-5619 failed to reach its primary endpoint in a phase II trial.
As a result, all development of the once promising ADHD candidate will be halted, and Targacept, whose former CEO J Donald deBethizy stepped down in June, 2012, will adapt its research efforts in an attempt to focus on programmes with more optimistic potential.
“We will limit our investment in our nicotinic pipeline to our ongoing or previously announced clinical programs until the search for a new CEO is successfully completed, and we will implement a further reduction in force,” said Targacept's chair Mark Skaletsky.
Last year the company's partnership with GlaxoSmithKline to develop products targeting neuronal nicotinic receptors was terminated, with Targacept losing out on a potential $1.5bn in milestone payments.
More recently, Targacept's collaboration with AstraZeneca ended in March, 2012 after poor results in phase III studies for what would have been a first-in-class antidepressant. This failure also contributed to the departure of David Brennan as CEO of AstraZeneca.
The latest disappointment involving TC-5619 came to light during a trial involving 153 patients with inattentive-predominant ADHD.
According to Targacept, patients in the placebo dose group consistently improved more than patients taking the actual medicine.
Commenting on the most recent round of lay-offs, Skaletsky said: “Targacept is immensely grateful for the contributions of each of our employees, and we can only make this difficult decision based on our commitment to maximising the future potential of the company's assets.”