Intellia to lay off staff, cut some early research

Intellia to lay off staff, cut some early research

  05 Jan 2024

CRISPR specialist Intellia Therapeutics on Thursday said it will lay off about 15% of its workforce as it pauses some early-stage research.

The cuts come a little over three months after Intellia, one of the first companies founded to turn the gene editing technology into medicines, received a green light from U.S. regulators to begin a late-stage clinical trial of its most advanced drug candidate.

That therapy, known as NTLA-2001 and for a rare genetic disease called ATTR amyloidosis, will remain Intellia’s focus moving foward, along with other priority programs.

“We are rapidly expanding the potential to treat an even larger range of diseases, including those that originate outside of the liver, by deploying our novel delivery and editing technologies,” John Leonard, Intellia’s CEO, said in a statement.

With the announcement, Intellia is one of the first biotechnology companies to announce layoffs in 2024, joining more than 150 drugmakers that did so last year amid a market downturn.

The biotech has started enrolling patients in the Phase 3 trial testing NTLA-2001 in adults with cardiac form of ATTR amyloidosis. The CRISPR-based therapy, developed in partnership with Regeneron, silences a gene to reduce levels of a toxic protein that builds up in the heart and nerves.

Intellia has advanced several other experimental drugs, about half of which are partnered with Regeneron. Behind NTLA-2001 in Phase 2 testing is a treatment for hereditary angioedema, a genetic condition characterized by painful swelling attacks. Late last year, the company also expanded its yearslong alliance with Regeneron to explore gene editing treatments for neurological diseases.

Still, Intellia has seen setbacks, including the discontinuation of a partnership with Novartis in sickle cell disease. In November, it pivoted away from work on a liver disease program to focus on a different approach using its “DNA writing” technology.

Intellia’s rivals have hit speed bumps, too. CRISPR Therapeutics, which just won the first U.S. approval of a CRISPR-based medicine in December, restructured some of its research and, according to Fierce Biotech, recently laid off some staff. Editas Medicine, another early CRISPR company, cut jobs one year ago after a series of setbacks and executive departures.

Intellia ended 2023 with approximately $1 billion in cash and cash equivalents, and has the financial runway to operate into mid-2026, according to the Thursday statement.

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