San Diego biotech to cut 40% of staff

Conatus Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company in San Diego, is implementing a restructuring plan that includes laying off 40 percent of its staff after its liver disease drug failed a midstage trial

The company said emricasan, its drug to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a fatty liver disease, failed to beat a placebo in its midstage clinical trial. It is discontinuing the trial altogether.

In March, the drug failed in a clinical trial with patients with biopsy-confirmed nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and liver fibrosis, and last year it failed to stop or reverse damage to liver transplants caused by hepatitis C.

The company said it is now exploring "strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value," including a sale. 

The company will also halt development of one of its lead drug candidates for inflammasome disease, CTS-2090.

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