Vical cuts staff, ditches candidate to ‘conserve capital’

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages/BrianAJackson
GettyImages/BrianAJackson

Related tags Clinical trial

Vical has dismissed 40 employees and abandoned a Phase III vaccine candidate in a reshuffle it says allows for greater resources on HSV-2 and antifungal trials.

The San Diego-headquartered firm announced the restructuring this week that will see staff reduced by 54% from 74 to 34 employees – attracting personnel-related charges of approximately $1.1m (€886k).

Vical also said it is terminating all activities related to the ASP0113 programme licensed to Astellas Pharma, following Phase III trial results released January 22​.

ASP0113 is a DNA vaccine under development for herpes virus cytomegalovirus (CMV)-seropositive hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients.

The firms said while the vaccine was “generally well tolerated”​, the candidate did not meet its endpoints in the Helios trial​.

“We are disappointed that the results did not demonstrate a significant improvement in overall survival and reduction in CMV end-organ disease,” ​said Astellas’ president of development Bernhardt G. Zeiher.

HSV-2 and antifungal studies

Vical said the restructuring will “conserve capital” ​and allow for increased focus on antifungal drug candidate VL-2397 and HSV-2 therapeutic vaccine VCL-HB01.

“We have carefully evaluated our organisation and priorities and are restructuring to extend our cash runway to ensure that our promising HSV-2 vaccine candidate and VL-2397 antifungal drug product candidate is adequately resourced to maximize shareholder value,” ​said CEO Vijay Samant.

The firm expects to launch a Phase II trial of VL-2397 – indicated for the treatment of patients with invasive fungal infections – in the first quarter of 2018.

VCL-HB01, which is indicated to treat patients with symptomatic genital herpes infections, is currently in a Phase II trial​. 

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