Sana cuts jobs in research area, keeps mum on numbers and programs

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Sana Biotechnology, a company with a focus on CAR-T therapies, has discreetly carried out another round of layoffs, declining to specify the exact number of employees affected. The rationale behind these workforce reductions is a quest for “operational efficiencies” within the organization, as per a company spokesperson.

While Sana, headquartered in Seattle, insists it hasn’t undergone a comprehensive restructuring, it has identified areas within its research where these efficiencies could be achieved. The spokesperson noted that efforts are usually made to reassign affected employees within the company, though this isn’t always feasible.

This marks the second instance of layoffs within a year. In November 2022, Sana Biotechnology laid off 15% of its workforce and ceased development of a program centered on utilizing heart cells to address heart failure. At the time, Sana expressed intentions to evaluate investments in its other platforms based on their clinical performance, with the aim of securing sufficient funds for vital clinical programs in the coming years.

Since then, one of Sana’s key initiatives, the second allogeneic CAR-T program known as SC263, has vanished from the company’s pipeline. In December, Sana was still planning to initiate human trials of this CD22-directed therapy during the current year for patients with relapsed cancer or those not adequately responding to approved CD19-targeted CAR-T treatments. 

However, this project appears to have fallen off the radar, with no mention of it in the company’s annual update in March. Additional inquiries have been made to Sana regarding the status of SC263.

In contrast, Sana’s CD19-directed allogeneic CAR-T program, referred to as SC291, has progressed to a phase 1 trial for B-cell malignancies, with an initial assessment anticipated later in the year. Furthermore, Sana is working toward securing FDA clearance this year to initiate human trials for another allogeneic CAR-T and an autologous CAR-T. These endeavors will be followed by the launch of a stem-cell-derived islet cell therapy for Type 1 diabetes in 2024.

Despite ending June with $325.9 million in cash and equivalents, a drop of more than $100 million from the company’s year-opening funds, Sana Biotechnology affirmed last month that it anticipates having the financial means to sustain its operations through 2025.

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