ZURICH (Reuters) – Drugmaker Polyphor is hiring new managers and shifting focus after a trial of its top antibiotic hopeful proved too dangerous to continue, the Swiss company said on Wednesday.
Chief Financial Officer Kalina Scott is leaving as Polyphor redirects its attention to the late-stage immuno-oncology asset balixafortide that it hopes proves effective against a type of metastatic breast cancer. Scott, who joined in 2017, will be replaced by Hernan Levett, now CFO at Auris Medical.
Polyphor’s prospects and its share price plunged this year when it halted a trial of its intravenous murepavadin antibiotic against pneumonia due to a risk it could damage kidneys. While it is still developing inhaled murepavadin for cystic fibrosis, the scotched trial was a major blow.
“The company expects inhaled murepavadin should not lead to kidney toxicity, given its much lower dose and local administration,” Polyphor said in a statement with its first-half earnings report.
In other management changes, Frank Weber is leaving the board to become chief medical and development officer, Gokhan Batur is joining as chief commercial officer and oncologist Frank Ringeisen is joining as the new cancer head.
Polyphor’s first-half loss widened to 27.9 million Swiss francs ($28.6 million), from about 21 million francs in the same period a year earlier. Cash levels fell to 97.2 million francs on June 30, down from 133.8 million francs six months earlier.
The shares cost less than less than 7 francs, about a fifth of levels reached after their 2018 initial public offering. Its market capitalization, once 400 million francs, is now less than 80 million francs.
(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Edmund Blair)