In a somber turn of events, Colorado-based pharma Fresh Tracks and California biotech Histogen have both declared their intentions to dissolve and liquidate their businesses.
Fresh Tracks is set to halt all its clinical and preclinical development programs, leading to layoffs affecting most employees by early October 2023. This decision followed an exhaustive search for strategic alternatives that ultimately proved fruitless. However, Fresh Tracks will retain select consultants, advisors, and employees involved in the dissolution process, pending final approval from its shareholders.
Histogen, based in San Diego, mirrored Fresh Tracks’ move by announcing the discontinuation of all clinical development programs and a significant reduction in its workforce. The majority of Histogen’s employees will face layoffs by the end of September 2023.
Fresh Tracks made headlines when it rebranded from Brickell Biotech in September 2022, with former CEO Robert Brown emphasizing the company’s mission to develop groundbreaking therapies to restore immune balance. Brown retired in January 2023, succeeded by Andew Sklawer.
Fresh Tracks had been advancing a pipeline of immunology assets, including the Phase I candidate FRTX-02, a DYRK1A inhibitor targeting atopic dermatitis and proposed for rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. The company also held an oral STING inhibitor, FRTX-10, in preclinical development for systemic lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
In its most recent earnings report in August 2023, Fresh Tracks revealed it had significantly scaled back research and development activities to conserve capital resources. Earlier, the company had explored strategic options, including financing, mergers, reverse mergers, business combinations, or partial sales.
Histogen, on the other hand, had been advancing its experimental bacterial skin infection treatment, emricasan, until the announcement. The FDA had given the green light in March 2023 for clinical trials of this candidate.
Both companies are considering asset sales to distribute proceeds to stockholders alongside remaining cash reserves. These dissolution plans are pending approval from their respective stockholders, with Histogen expecting a special meeting in the fourth quarter of this year.