Shares in Cytos Biotechnology have collapsed after the Swiss firm said that a trial of its hypertension vaccine has failed, forcing the company to make major job cuts.

Results from a 69-patient Phase IIa study of CYT006-AngQb showed that the vaccine was safe and well tolerated, but the new treatment regimen being tested “failed to induce a significant reduction of the ambulatory blood pressure”. The Schlieren, Zurich-based company said it is analysing the data “to understand the reasons for this negative outcome”, particularly as an earlier Phase IIa trial “showed a clinically relevant and significant reduction of the blood pressure”.

Now development of CYT006-AngQb has been halted. As a result, Cytos plans to reduce its workforce of 135 full-time employees by cutting 57 posts. These measures should reduce the company's cash burn in 2009 to 36 million Swiss francs and in 2010 to 25 million francs.

Cytos added that this extends the available financing of its R&D expenditures into 2012. The company will now focus on its collaboration with Novartis (smoking cessation and Alzheimer’s disease) and with Pfizer on undisclosed human and animal health applications. Sharewise, Cytos stock ended the day down almost 33% at 15.15 francs.

End of the road for Arpida?
Staying in Switzerland, and Arpida is telling shareholders that the company could cease trading.

At a stockholders meeting on May 7, the Reinach-based firm’s board said it plans to present “all available strategic choices” facing the company which has been in freefall since the end of last year when the FDA’s Anti-infective Drugs Advisory Committee voted 17 to two against the approval of iclaprim. The latter had been filed for the treatment of patients with complicated skin infections, including those caused by MRSA.

The options could include a reverse merger with another biotech business, selling iclaprim, a tender offer for the entire company or “other options, including a return of capital”, Arpida noted. The board said it believes that “the currently depressed stock market may value the company as a whole less than the sum of its assets”.