Amid Turbulent Market, CODA Closes Up Shop Without Fanfare

In a time of economic turbulence, one Bay Area biotech, CODA Biotherapeutics, has sadly been forced to close its doors. This is a stark reminder of the tough times faced by life science companies across the nation.

BioSpace has confirmed that CODA, a company launched in 2018 by Versant Ventures and MPM Capital, has ceased operations. Google now lists the company as “permanently closed.” This news has been met with shock and dismay, as the company had been seen as a promising venture that could have made a big impact.

The company’s website may still be up, but it seems the top execs have been bailing out since last fall. It’s unclear what this means for the future of the company, but it certainly raises some serious questions.

Annahita Keravala, the Senior Vice President of Gene Therapy, was the first to go when the company went through its restructuring. With an impressive background that included a PhD in Molecular Biology and multiple publications in scientific journals, Annahita was well-known within the industry.

In October 2022, Keravala made a dramatic career move and was appointed Chief Science Officer at Genescence Corporation. Meanwhile, Steve Dodson, formerly SVP of Drug Discovery at CODA, joined Aeovian Pharmaceuticals as an SVP in November of the same year.

After 14 years at the helm of Cognition Therapeutics, Susan Catalano stepped down from her role as CEO last March and took on a new challenge as Chief Scientific Officer at CODA. But just one month later, Catalano made another move, joining Capsida Biotherapeutics as their Chief Scientific Officer.

CODA is revolutionizing the treatment of intractable neurological diseases with a groundbreaking chemogenetic gene therapy platform. By focusing on focal epilepsy and chronic neuropathic pain, this innovative approach is providing new hope to those suffering from these conditions.

The biopharma industry is facing a period of financial strain, and CODA is no exception. As a result, the company has been forced to shutter its operations without giving a clear explanation. With limited resources available at all levels, companies are being forced to make drastic changes to their operations in order to stay afloat.

With the new year just around the corner, BioSpace’s Layoff Tracker for 2023 is already showing signs of being a year of change and uncertainty. Over 35 companies have already been added to the tracker, signaling potential layoffs and restructuring in the coming year.

In 2022, the trend of downsizing in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry rapidly accelerated – with 28 U.S.-headquartered companies making official downsizing announcements, according to a report shared with BioSpace from LifeSci Search. This marked an astonishing 100% increase compared to 2021, when only 10 such announcements were made.

In a bold move to stay afloat, Sorrento Therapeutics recently received interim court approval for a whopping $75 million financing through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This infusion of much-needed liquidity gives the company a fighting chance in these trying times, when staff cuts and financial decisions are being made to ensure survival.

The current financing climate is brutal, according to Mike Rice of Life Sci Advisors, who noted that it will lead to the closure of lower quality companies and programs.

BioSpace has reached out to the former executives of CODA in pursuit of comment, yet they have yet to offer a response. Will they provide an answer to the burning questions posed to them?

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