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Candel Therapeutics Lays off Half its Workforce, Refocuses on Most Advanced Oncology Programs

NEW YORK – Candel Therapeutics on Tuesday said it was reducing its workforce by 50 percent and focusing on developing its most advanced immunotherapy candidates, CAN-3110 and CAN-2409, and its enLIGHTEN Discovery Platform.

By reducing staff and lowering its operating costs, Candel expects to fund operations into the fourth quarter of 2024.

Candel expects to present initial activity and biomarker data on CAN-3110 in recurrent high-grade glioma in the second half of 2024. A Phase I study of the herpes simplex virus (HSV)-based viral immunotherapy showed that positive HSV-1 serology, increased infiltrating immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, and expansion of the T-cell repertoire were associated with improved survival. The firm said it plans to begin investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies of CAN-3110 in a second indication characterized by Nestin expression.

The Needham, Massachusetts-based firm is also seeking partners that could help it further develop CAN-2409, an off-the-shelf replication-defective adenovirus that is designed to deliver the HSV-thymidine kinase gene to a patient's tumors and elicit an immune response against the disease. Candel is betting that CAN-2409, the most advanced immunotherapy in its pipeline, will be efficacious against a range of tumor types. The firm is currently studying CAN-2409 in patients with prostate, pancreatic, and non-small cell lung cancer.

In 2021, Candel partnered with Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies and the Cancer Immune Monitoring and Analysis Centers-Cancer Immunologic Data Commons Network to explore biomarkers of response in NSCLC patients treated with CAN-2409.

In Q3 2024, the firm expects to present data on another drug candidate it has developed using the enLIGHTEN platform, which creates HSV-based gene constructs to modulate the tumor microenvironment. Last year, Candel partnered with the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Cellular Immunotherapies to use the enLIGHTEN platform to identify HSV vectors that could be combined with autologous CAR T-cell therapies.