Bellicum Pharmaceuticals to cut 79% of staff after disappointing trial data, stock suffering record plunge

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Shares of Bellicum Pharmaceuticals Inc. plunged 35.1% in midday trading Friday, putting them on track for their biggest-ever one-day drop, after the clinical stage biopharmaceutical company said it was slashing its workforce by 79% as part of a restructuring, following disappointing data from a trial of its pancreatic cancer treatment. The interim trial results of BPX-601 were “encouraging” in terms of safety and GoCAR-T cell activation, but clinically meaningful efficacy was not observed. “We have concluded that Bellicum must reduce spending on preclinical programs and shift its resources to enable achievement of meaningful milestones in the clinic,” said Chief Executive Rick Fair. The company said it was cutting its staff to 14 employees from 68 by the end of 2020. Ladenburg Thalmann analyst Wangzhi Li followed by downgrading Bellicum to neutral from buy, writing in a note to clients that the interim trial results “raises questions on a key intended function of GoCART technology and significantly increases uncertainty on its outlook.” The stock has tumbled 70.3% year to date, while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF has gained 8.1% and the S&P 500 has tacked on 1.0%.
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