Bristol-Myers Squibb is pulling the plug on its discovery research in virology as part of an R&D reshuffle plans for which first surfaced back in 2013, leading to cull of around 100 related positions.

The US drugs giant said the move impacts its early research including work in hepatitis B and HIV, but stressed that current development programmes - including the HIV attachment inhibitor BMS-663068 and anti-PD-L1 compound BMS-936559 - and already marketed products won’t be affected.

The group’s Discovery organisation will continue to focus on research in immuno-oncology as well as heart failure, fibrosis, genetically defined diseases and immunoscience.

In a further shake-up of R&D operations, BMS also said it intends to expand its presence within hubs of scientific excellence and innovation, through the opening of a new state-of-the-art research site in Cambridge, Massachusetts, expected in 2018, as well as the ongoing expansion of its R&D Discovery site in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The plans will also see the closure of two research centres in Waltham, MA, and Wallingford, CT, with the relocation of up to 200 scientists to the new Cambridge site, and updated labs in New Jersey.

“Ultimately, our goal is to continue to accelerate the translation of scientific knowledge and insights into the next wave of potentially transformational medicines for patients with serious diseases,” said Francis Cuss, BMS’ chief scientific officer, explaining the developments.