For the second time this year, Boston-based Ikena Oncology has announced plans for workforce reduction and pipeline prioritisation.

The company plans to reduce its workforce by 53%, expected to be complete in Q3 this year. The staff layoffs are expected to cost approximately $1.2m.

Ikena reported cash reserves of $157m as of 31 March 2024, down $18m from the end of Q4 last year.

Ikena has also discontinued developing its selective Hippo pathway inhibitor, IK-930, and will start “winddown activities”. The company added it will seek “strategic options” for the programme, including partnership agreements that could explore the “development of IK-930 in combination with other targeted agents”.

In January, Ikena announced cash-saving measures, including a 35% reduction in its workforce and the stoppage of its exploratory research and discovery efforts. At that time, the company had focused on IK-930 as one of the two therapies for further development.

IK-930 is a selective Hippo pathway inhibitor that targets TEA domain transcription factor 1 (TEAD1). The drug was being investigated in a Phase I trial (NCT05228015) in patients with solid tumours. The company planned to focus its development on treating epithelioid haemangioendothelioma (EHE) and mesothelioma.

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Following the latest round of pipeline reprioritisation, Ikena has one therapy in its pipeline—IK-595, a MEK-RAF molecular glue. It targets the RAS signalling pathway, responsible for cancer cell proliferation. The drug is currently in Phase I trial in patients with RAS and RAF mutant cancers.

Early Phase I data with the drug showed an 80% pERK inhibition at 4 hours post-dosing, with above 60% inhibition sustained through 24 hours. pERK is one of the major transducers of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, participating in regulating fundamental cell functions.

Multiple pharmaceutical companies have announced layoffs in recent months amidst a difficult economic environment. Last month, Novartis announced plans to lay off approximately 680 staff members. The plans were separate from the company’s overall restructuring programme, which could involve up to 8,000 workers.

Xilio Therapeutics also dismissed 21% of its staff in April. Additionally, the company terminated the development of XTX202, a tumour-activated beta-gamma biased interleukin (IL)-2. Like Ikena, Xilio did not outright dismiss the development of the therapy, instead stated that it would explore partnerships to develop the therapy as a combination treatment.