Spero shrinks staff by 75%

Spero Therapeutics is the latest in a long line of biotechs to shrink its staff list in response to financial setbacks.

The biotech, seeded in 2013 by Atlas Venture, will lay off 75% of its workforce as it waits for the U.S. FDA to respond to its new drug application for its UTI oral antibiotic, tebipenem HBr.

Spero is cutting back on spending after disappointing test results from phase 3 trials of tebipenem suggest the FDA will not grant the drug approval, according to the biotech. The agency will announce its official decision on June 27.

Going forward, Spero will focus its efforts on the two other drugs in its pipeline, SPR720, which will be used to treat non-tuberculous mycobacterial lung disease, and SPR206, which is intended to be used to treat multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.

As Spero drops its employees from 146 full-time employees to 35, it will also say goodbye to COO, Cristina Larkin and chief medical officer, David Melnick. The reduction in staffing will help the company extend its cash until late 2023, as it refocuses its operation.

Tebipenem is intended to be used to treat complicated urinary tract infections (cUTI). It has been granted Fast Track and Priority Review designations by the FDA. Spero isn’t totally scrapping its plans for the drug and said it will continue engaging with the FDA for an appropriate path forward.

Spero isn’t the only biotech fizzling out in the market right now. Recently, Black Diamond Therapeutics stalled a cancer drug and cut 30% of its staff thanks to cash flow concerns. Solid Biosciences and bluebird bio are also cutting staff in efforts to save cash.