London-based biotechnology company BenevolentAI has announced a restructuring plan aimed at preserving cash and advancing its most promising drug candidates. As part of the plan, up to 180 employees will be laid off, and spending will be reduced to extend the company’s cash runway until July 2025. Nicholas Keher, the Chief Financial Officer of BenevolentAI, has resigned to pursue other opportunities, and Tom Holgate will serve as the interim CFO.
The company will focus on its most advanced prospects, including experimental medicines for ulcerative colitis and glioblastoma multiforme, while continuing early work on drugs for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and fibrosis. One of its advanced drug candidates for atopic dermatitis will be discontinued due to mixed Phase 2 results. The restructuring is expected to generate £45 million ($55 million) in net cash savings.
BenevolentAI is among the biotech companies that employ high-powered computing tools for drug discovery, a growing trend in the industry. The company went public in Europe through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) two years ago, valuing it at approximately $1.7 billion. However, its shares, along with those of similar companies like Recursion Pharmaceuticals and Exiscentia, have experienced significant declines in value since then. Biotech firms have faced financial challenges due to a public market downturn, leading many to implement cost-cutting measures, including layoffs. In the first quarter of this year alone, biotechs had laid off around 3,200 employees.
The restructuring plan and strategic focus on advanced drug candidates aim to ensure BenevolentAI’s financial stability and progress in its drug development efforts. By streamlining operations and allocating resources to the most promising areas, the company seeks to maximize its potential for success in the competitive biotechnology landscape.