Trubion Cuts One-Fourth of Workforce

Seattle-based Trubion Pharmaceuticals said today it is cutting one-fourth of its workforce, about 25 jobs, leaving it with a staff of about 75. The company says it expects the cuts will help it conserve enough cash to operate into the second half of 2010.

The Trubion (NASDAQ: TRBN) cuts will affect “most areas of the company,” a spokeswoman said. The restructuring is designed to invest in the company’s “strongest near-term opportunities,” including TRU-016 for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and select drug candidates in animal testing that it says could become valuable over time. Trubion says it will “continue to support” the programs it has in a collaboration with Madison, NJ-based Wyeth, TRU-015 and SBI-087, a pair of experimental drugs for rheumatoid arthritis.

Trubion was dealt a big dose of uncertainty last month when the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, New York-based Pfizer, reached an agreement to acquire Wyeth for $68 billion. Trubion has no marketed products of its own, so it depends heavily on the partnership with Wyeth to support its research and development. A clinical trial of 270 patients who took Trubion’s lead drug, TRU-015, or a placebo, disappointed investors in the fall of 2007 because it didn’t show conclusive superiority over Genentech’s rituximab (Rituxan) for rheumatoid arthritis.

Wyeth has shown willingness to stick with Trubion’s plan, pushing forward another mid-stage trial that’s expected to produce results by the end of 2009, but investors have run low on patience. Trubion had about $61.6 million in cash and investments left at the end of September, the last time it reported financial results, yet investors are saying the company is worth a whole lot less than that, giving it a market value of $23 million. Trubion stock fell 87 percent during 2008.

For an updated look at job cuts at Seattle high-tech and life sciences companies, check out our updated layoff tracker.

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