Athersys to restructure – 70% of workforce to go

brain stroke

U.S. biotech company Athersys, Inc. has announced a corporate restructuring plan to reduce costs and prioritize its lead clinical programs. 

In connection with the restructuring, the company is reducing its workforce up to 70%, with most of the reduction expected to be completed by the end of June 2022. 

The company said this initial step is to reduce its cost structure and become more attractive to both financial and strategic partners.

Athersys is developing its MultiStem cell therapy product, a stem-cell product, initially for disease indications in the neurological, inflammatory and immune, cardiovascular, and other critical care indications and has several ongoing clinical trials evaluating this potential regenerative medicine product. 

About MultiStem

MultiStem cell therapy (invimestrocel) is a regenerative medicine product candidate in clinical development that has shown the ability to promote tissue repair and healing in a variety of ways, such as through the production of therapeutic factors in response to signals of inflammation and tissue damage. 

MultiStem can be manufactured in a scalable way, may be stored for years in frozen form, and is administered without tissue matching or the need for immune suppression. 

The company said based upon favorable outcome data, its novel mechanisms of action, and favorable and consistent tolerability data in clinical studies, it believes MultiStem therapy may provide a meaningful benefit to patients, including those suffering from serious diseases and conditions with unmet medical need.

Continued partnerships

“The decision to realign our resources and restructure our organization was difficult but will help us focus on the critical programs that are expected to drive our future growth,” said Dan Camardo, CEO of Athersys. 

“We remain excited by the potential of MultiStem to benefit patients in stroke as well as other critical care areas. I’m confident that our revised strategy and focus, executed by the remaining committed team, puts us on the right path for future opportunities. We are deeply grateful to the employees who are leaving Athersys for their commitment, hard work, and many contributions.”

Even with the reduced costs from the restructuring, the company said it will need to raise additional capital to reach full enrolment and data readout from its MASTERS-2 trial. Discussions with potential partners are ongoing, while the company continues to explore additional financing options to strengthen its balance sheet. 

Athersys said it will continue to partner with HEALIOS K.K. in Japan to advance its ischemic stroke and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) programs.

As part of the restructuring plan, the company also announced changes to its executive team. William (B.J.) Lehmann, president and chief operating officer, left the company on May 31, 2022.  John Harrington, executive vice president and chief scientific officer, and Ivor Macleod, chief financial officer, will be leaving on June 30, 2022.

Cover image: Shutterstock

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