The fall-out from the failure of its prostate cancer compound satraplatin has forced GPC Biotech of Germany to slash its workforce by over 100 in a bid to keep the company afloat.

GPC’s problems stem from the data it presented from the SPARC Phase III trial earlier this which evaluated satraplatin plus prednisone versus placebo plus prednisone as a second-line treatment with hormone-refractory prostate cancer. The companies reported that the trial did not achieve the endpoint of overall survival and the firm’s share price promptly collapsed.

In July, the Martinsried-based company withdrew a marketing application in the USA for satraplatin after receiving a negative response from the US Food and Drug Administration’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee. This prompted the firm to announce a 15% reduction in staff numbers, a move which affected 46 employees in the USA, but it is now cutting 44% of its workforce.

The latest restructuring plan involves a staff reduction of 103 employees, 60 in Munich and 43 in Princeton, USA. This will leave GPC with 114 workers, roughly split between the two countries, with most of its drug development headquartered in the USA. It will retain a core drug discovery group in Munich that will focus on kinase inhibitors.

Chief executive Bernd Seizinger said that GPC’s goal of having two years of operating cash (some 60 million euros) on hand at the end of 2007 “has sadly necessitated very significant staff reductions on both sides of the Atlantic”. He added that this is a “very challenging time for GPC“ but “we have retained a smaller, excellent team who we are confident can effectively address these challenges.”

Mr Seizinger concluded by saying that GPC will focus on “a limited number of development-stage oncology projects”, significantly increase its licensing efforts and “actively explore merger and acquisition opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic”.