Repligen Corp. terminated 80 staffers and cut back on its productdevelopment programs in an attempt to slash $12 million in expensesand focus its resources on the company's lead product, recombinantplatelet factor (rPF4), for cancer and cardiovascular treatments.

The restructuring is the second in six months for Repligen, ofCambridge, Mass. Last July the company laid off 65 employees andended development of an HIVvaccine.

The loss of another 80 workers (47 percent), effective Tuesday,reduces Repligen's work force to 90. In addition to cuttingpersonnel, the company discontinued clinical development ofAM285, a small molecule designed to regulate cells' back-up energysystems and inhibit tumor growth. The drug was in Phase I studiesfor late-stage solid cancer tumors.

Repligen also said it was postponing the start of clinical trials ofRG1046, a molecule aimed at preventing bone marrow transplantrejection.

Clare Clifford, Repligen's senior director of corporatecommunications, said the restructuring will not affect the company'scollaboration with Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. for m60.1, amonoclonal antibody under development to combat organreperfusion injury. The drug is in Phase I trials.

The protein, rPF4, is in three Phase I/II clinical trials for braintumors, Kaposi's sarcoma and restoration of coagulation in coronarybypass patients.

In treating cancer, rPF4 is directed against angiogenesis, which is thecreation of new blood vessels that feed a tumor's growth. In bypasssurgery, rPF4, has shown the ability to reverse the effects of heparin,an anticoagulant used in cardiovascular surgery.

Clifford said the cutbacks in personnel and programs should besufficient to enable Repligen to develop and commercialize rPF4.The company also will continue research on chemokine moleculesand B7 receptors, which are involved in immune responses to organtransplants.

She said Repligen will pursue corporate partnerships to restart itssuspended drug development programs.

As of Dec. 31, the company reported $18.5 million in cash. Thereorganization, Clifford said, will reduce the burn rate to $1 million amonth beginning in April, which is the start of fiscal 1996 forRepligen.

The company's overall restructuring plan involved creating twobusiness units; one to handle drug development and the other,manufacturing. Clifford said Repligen is marketing use of itsresearch and manufacturing facilities to smaller companies to helpboost revenues.

Repligen announced the reorganization in conjunction with therelease of its financial results for the quarter ending Dec. 31. Thecompany posted losses of $5.8 million, or 38 cents per share, for thequarter, and $18.7 million, or $1.22 per share, for the first ninemonths of the fiscal year 1995.

Revenues for the quarter were $3.6 million and for the first ninemonths of the fiscal year they totaled $11.8 million. n

-- Charles Craig

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.