Synta Pharmaceuticals, a Lexington, Mass.-based biopharmaceutical company, has outlined a new corporate strategy aimed at focusing the company's resources on achieving key value creating milestones in 2015 and 2016, and transforming the organization into an oncology biopharmaceuticals company. Part of this process involves cutting 20% of employees from payroll, or 43 jobs.
Synta's core strengths in oncology R&D are exemplified by the discovery and rapid development of ganetespib, its phase III, novel, potent, small molecule inhibitor of Heat Shock Protein 90 (Hsp90), and its Hsp90 Drug Conjugate (HDC) platform, which includes a broad library of potential product candidates.
Synta will focus its clinical development activities on ganetespib. Ganetespib is in development for the treatment of a broad range of cancers, with its lead program in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in the company sponsored pivotal phase III GALAXY-2 clinical trial. Interim analysis from this study is expected in the second half of 2015 and final analysis is expected in the first half of 2016.
In addition, ganetespib also is in a phase III clinical trial for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and phase II clinical trials for ovarian and breast cancer, each sponsored through cooperative groups. As part of its development plan for ganetespib, Synta is exploring certain biomarkers, which it expects may guide future development of the product, pending confirmation of their prognostic and predictive potential via results of ongoing studies.
Synta performed a comprehensive review of the company's drug candidate portfolio, development programs and research agenda in order to optimize the allocation of its limited resources. This review has led to a rationalization of the company's portfolio and research activities, demonstrated by the divestiture of Synta's IL-12/23 inhibitor program and its CRAC ion channel inhibitor program in 2014.
As part of this effort, the company reduced its headcount in 2014 by a total of 20 people and reallocated resources to increase support of the ongoing ganetespib development program and HDC platform. Going forward, Synta intends to build its pipeline through a focused, internal research agenda, complemented by external partnerships and business development activities.
To support the future pipeline development and research agenda, Synta has named Dr. Neil Spector, Sandra P. Coates Chair Breast Cancer Research, Duke University Medical Center, scientific advisor to the company. Spector will retain his full-time faculty appointment and research/clinical responsibilities at Duke, while dedicating a percentage of his consulting time to Synta activities.
Synta is adapting its operating model to better suit its future strategy needs. Rather than focusing primarily on building internal capabilities across discovery, development and commercialization, this new model will reflect a leaner, more agile organization that leverages internal strategic capabilities with the expertise of external capabilities, as-needed.
As part of this change in Synta's operating model, the company has announced an additional reduction in force of approximately 20%. Synta expects to realize cost savings from this downsizing in 2015. On a cumulative basis, headcount has been reduced from 133 at the beginning of 2014 to 90 today. The company will continue to seek productivity improvements and increased operating efficiencies as the new operating model for the organization is put in place. This will include a consolidation of Synta's office and laboratory facilities in 2016.