exit sign

Magenta cuts 5 executives, 84% of staff following patient death

Published: Feb 09, 2023

By Tristan Manalac


Magenta Therapeutics is implementing a restructuring initiative that includes cutting up to 56 positions from its workforce – about 84 percent of its total staff – according to a filing with the SEC.

Several members of the company’s executive team will also be let go, including:

  • Jason Gardner, president and CEO,
  • David Nichols, chief technical officer,
  • Caren Deardorf, chief commercial officer,
  • Kristen Stants, chief people officer and
  • Shawn Rose, senior vice president.

This news comes just days following the biotech’s decision to suspend the development of its clinical programs after a patient’s death halted a Phase I/II trial.

Previously, Magenta paused a dose-escalation study of its lead asset, MGTA-117, in acute myeloid leukemia on Jan. 26th after a patient suffered respiratory failure and cardiac arrest. The death was deemed possibly related to the study drug.

The trial hold was voluntary but recommended by a safety Cohort Review Committee. Magenta reported the incident to the FDA as a Suspected Unexpected Serious Adverse Reaction.

As of Sept. 30th, 2022, Magenta still had cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities amounting to $128.3 million. The company revealed in its third-quarter financial results, posted November 2022. At the time, Magenta expected its cash runway to extend through the middle of 2024.

As part of its business review, the company will assess the feasibility of an acquisition, merger, business combination or other similar transactions.

Suspended Stem Cell Programs

Magenta’s pipeline is focused on stem cell transplantation. 

The company was developing novel antibody-drug conjugates to enable either mobilization and collection, wherein stem cells are extracted from a patient’s or donor’s bone marrow, or conditioning, which involves the removal of stem cells from the recipient’s bone marrow.

While ADCs have long been known to be effective against specific cancers, Magenta has pioneered its use in stem cell transplantation.

MGTA-117 was tested as a conditioning agent. The candidate targeted the CD117 receptor and was designed to selectively deplete cells bearing this protein, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for chemotherapy.  

CD117 is a cell surface-bound protein enriched in hematopoietic stem cells and leukemia cells, making it a good conditioning target for many blood disorders.

Magenta was also developing a second investigational conditioning agent, a CD45-targeted ADC. This candidate was in preclinical studies and had recently completed dose-ranging toxicology assessments with no unexpected findings.

MGTA-145, an agonist of the CXCR2 protein, was designed to be used with plerixafor, a CXCR4 antagonist, to target complementary pathways to improve the process of stem cells being released into the bloodstream. The candidate was in two Phase II trials.