Candel Therapeutics has fired approximately 50% of its workforce in an effort to extend its cash runway into Q4 FY 2024.

The US-based company expects the extended cash runway would allow the company to achieve key catalyst events including trial readouts for its lead candidate CAN-2409 (aglatimagene besadenovec).

The one-time cost for restructuring is expected to cost Candel approximately $0.7m, as per a 28 November press release.

Candel pipeline update

CAN-2409 is a replication-defective adenovirus designed to deliver the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSV-tk) gene into a patient’s tumour to induce a systemic immune response.

The therapy is currently being evaluated as an adjuvant therapy with the current standard of treatment as a treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer in the Phase II trial (NCT04495153). The topline overall survival data from the trial is expected in Q2 FY 2024.

CAN-2409 is also being evaluated as an add-on treatment for pancreatic cancer in patients with borderline resectable pancreatic cancer. The open-label Phase II trial (NCT02446093) is investigating the therapy in combination with valacyclovir, chemoradiation and surgery.

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As of the 21 August data cut-off, the estimated survival rate was 71.4% at both 24 and 36 months in patients who received CAN-2409 add-on therapy compared to 16.7% survival rate at 24 and 36 months in patients who only received standard of care.

Median survival was not reached in the treatment arm while it was 12.5 months in the control arm. In March, Candel paused new enrolment into the trial as part of a cost-cutting initiative. The interim analysis of the overall survival data from the enrolled patients is expected in Q2 FY 2024.

Candel is also investigating CAN-2409 as a treatment for prostate cancer in Phase II (NCT02768363) and Phase III (NCT01436968) trials. The Phase III study is being conducted under a special protocol assessment (SPA) agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The topline data from both Phase II and Phase III trials is expected in Q4 FY 2024.

The company also plans to continue the development of CAN-3110 and enLIGHTEN Discovery Platform. CAN-3110 is a replication-competent herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) oncolytic viral immunotherapy. The therapy is being evaluated as a treatment of recurrent malignant glioma in a Phase I clinical trial (NCT03152318). Candel is collaborating with Brigham and Women’s Hospital Boston, US, for this study.

With the current restructuring, Candel joins the list of pharmaceutical companies such as Galera Therapeutics, Kinnate Bio, NexImmune, Kronos and Atreca, that have chosen to cut employees to allocate their resources to clinical programmes.