Rubius Therapeutics Cuts 84% ​​of Workforce, Explores Sale and Merger Options

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Rubius Therapeutics plans to initiate a large restructuring initiative, which includes laying off 84% of its staff and a possible sale, the company announced Wednesday.

In the company’s Form 8-K filing with the SEC, Rubius stated that its board of directors approved a plan to “review strategic alternatives, including a sale or merger of the Company or one or more sales of its assets.” The filing also stated Rubius will significantly and immediately reduce operations and has terminated 42 employees.

In 2018, Rubius launched one of that year’s biggest biotech initial public offerings (IPOs).

Rubius Therapeutics declined BioSpace‘s request for comment.

This marks the second time this year the company has made a major pivot. In mid-September, the company announced it was restructuring to focus on its Red Cell Therapeutics technology. At the time, Rubius indicated it would terminate 75% of its staff.

And in 2020, Rubius made a strategic decision to reprioritize its focus on its RED Platform, minimizing its focus on rare diseases and instead targeting its resources on cancer and autoimmune diseases. At the time, Rubius said its technology platform was used to genetically engineer and culture Red Cell Therapeutics that are “selective, potent and off-the-shelf allogeneic cellular therapies for the potential treatment of several diseases across multiple therapeutic areas.”

Its lead oncology program at the time was RTX-240, a broad immunostimulatory Red Cell Therapeutic. But in the September 2022 announcement, Rubius reported discontinuing ongoing early-stage clinical studies of RTX-240 and RTX-224 for advanced solid tumors.

What Comes Next

In Wednesday’s announcement, Rubius announced that Dannielle Appelhans, the current COO at Rubius, would be appointed president and CEO, effective Nov. 15. The SEC filing indicates she will also serve as the company’s “interim principal financial officer and principal accounting officer.”

Cagnoni, effective immediately, was appointed chair of the Rubius board of directors. He will continue as president and CEO until Nov. 15. The current chairman, Noubar Afeyan, MD, resigned but will continue as a board observer.

Cagnoni also plans to join Flagship Pioneering. Rubius was founded by Flagship in 2014.

Additional changes in the C-suite include Pepe Carmona, CFO, and Maiken Keson-Brooks, chief legal officer and corporate secretary, leaving the company.

The company believes that slashing staff and refocusing on its second-generation technology will cut its operating expenses “with the goal of allowing the Company to pursue any viable strategic alternatives,” according to the SEC filing. This will also incur charges of about $4.4 million in the fourth quarter, including termination benefits mostly made up of severity payments.

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