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Benitec Lays Off Half of US Staff, Trims Drug-Development Programs in Cost-Cutting Effort

NEW YORK, April 18 (GenomeWeb News) - Benitec said today that it has cut its US workforce in half in an effort to reduce the operational expenses of its US subsidiary.


The company expects to save approximately $100,000 per month as a result of the layoffs. Benitec also said that it has implemented further expenses reductions associated with its drug development programs, and significantly reduced its facilities costs, which is anticipated to save the company another $250,000 per month.


Benitec is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., but is listed on the Australian stock exchange and has additional facilities in Dulwich Hill, Australia.


Benitec said that the cost reductions should result in a 50-percent decrease in monthly spending levels, and save the company about $4 million annually.


"The directors recognize that Benitec does not currently have the required levels of capital to continue funding a US drug-development business at the rate of expenditure to date," Peter Francis, chairman of Benitec, said in a statement.


Benitec is currently developing RNAi-based therapeutics for hepatitis C and HIV.


In 2005, Sigma-Aldrich made a $2.5-million equity stake in Benitec and acquired the right to use Benitec's intellectual property to develop and market research reagents.

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