e-Therapeutics CEO steps down

The founder and CEO of UK biotech e-Therapeutics has stood down, as part of restructuring following the failure of a key depression drug earlier this year.

Malcolm Young’s departure follows a disastrous mid-stage trial of its ETS6103 depression drug in February, in which the drug failed to match the efficacy of the decades old generic, amitriptyline.

The news sent the Oxford-based biotech’s share price plummeting, and after trading at about 40p per share last autumn, the company’s shares are now worth around 11p each.

At the time Young (pictured) defended the drug, saying that its safety profile could still make it marketable.

Young has now stepped down with immediate effect, and has resigned as a director, although he has agreed to provide occasional assistance for the next six months.

Iain Ross, formerly in a non-executive role, has become executive chairman and will lead the search for a new CEO and Steve Medlicott, chief financial officer, has been appointed chief operating officer.

Director Trevor Jones will take oversight of the scientific team and lead an “immediate and comprehensive review”.

In a statement, Ross said the company is looking for partners to commercialise its products, noting that Young had “worked tirelessly to build its scientific base” after founding the company in 2003 and serving as CEO since 2007.

e-Therapeutics also has ETS2101 (dexanabinol), which targets cancer cells’ ability to resist their own self-destruction, in early stage clinical trials.

Last year the biotech began a phase 1b trial investigating ETS2101 in combination with standard of care for patients with newly diagnosed hepatocellular carcinoma or pancreatic cancer, or as monotherapy in patients with primary HCC or pancreatic cancer who have relapsed or refractory disease.

The company has regulatory approval to extend the phase 1B trials to the US.

At pre-clinical stage the company also has a small-molecule anti-TNF drug, two more cancer drugs, and a broad spectrum antibiotic.

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