Gene and cell therapy company Abeona Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: ABEO), which is co-headquartered in Cleveland and New York, said it has promoted Michael Amoroso, senior vice president and chief commercial officer, to chief operating officer, effective Nov. 1.
The change makes Amoroso the principal executive and operating officer at Abeona, which has undergone significant leadership change in recent weeks — and is in the process of examining its future.
In his new role at the biopharmaceutical company, Amoroso’s responsibilities “will broaden to include oversight and leadership of all operations, including, but not limited to, research and clinical development, regulatory, medical, commercial, corporate affairs and business development,” Abeona said in a news release issued Tuesday, Oct. 27.
The release came nearly one month after Abeona announced, in a Sept. 28 news release, that Dr. João Siffert on Sept. 23 had resigned from his positions as CEO, head of research and development, and chief medical officer, as well as member of the board of directors. (Siffert on Oct. 20 was named CEO and a board member of Design Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in San Diego.)
Siffert wasn’t the only one who left Abeona.
The company on Sept. 28 also announced that five board members — Dr. Brian Pereira, Stefano Buono, Dr. Stephen B. Howell, George Migausky and Shawn Tomasello — had stepped down from the board, effective Sept. 27.
“No director gave any reason for their resignation and no director indicated any disagreements with the company,” Abeona said in the Sept. 28 release.
There was almost another board change.
According to this filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, board member Steven H. Rouhandeh on Sept. 17 notified the company of his resignation from the board, which was to have taken effect on Sept. 30.
However, on Sept. 30, Rouhandeh rescinded his resignation from the board, and the board accepted his rescission of resignation, according to the SEC filing. The board on Sept. 30 unanimously elected Rouhandeh as chairman.
In the Sept. 28 release, Abeona said it was “reviewing and exploring all strategic options and alternatives focused on advancing the company’s mission and maximizing stakeholder value, including the sale of some or all of its assets or sale of the company. There can be no assurance this strategic review will result in the completion of any particular course of action. There is no defined timeline for completion of the review process.”
On Oct. 6, Abeona announced in a news release that is had formed a special committee “to oversee and advise the executive leadership team on the operations of the company.”
It said the special committee, which consists of current board members, is “working closely with the executive leadership team to develop the company’s strategic direction and leadership plan as it continues to advance its clinical programs toward providing novel gene and cell therapies to patients who currently have no approved treatment options.”
Abeona retained Jefferies LLC as its financial adviser to assist with the review of strategic options.
The Abeona website lists four current board members: Rouhandeh, Paul Mann, Christine Silverstein and Dr. Todd Wider.
A phone call from Crain’s to Greg Gin, vice president of investor relations for Abeona, was not immediately returned on Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Amoroso, now the company’s top executive, has been Abeona’s senior vice president and chief commercial officer since July. Prior to joining Abeona, Amoroso held various senior level commercial positions at several biopharmaceutical companies, including Kite, Eisai Inc., Celgene Corp. (now a subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.) and Sanofi.
He earned his MBA in management from the Stern School of Business at New York University and his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Rider University.
Abeona’s stock at 1 p.m. on Wednesday was trading at $1.13 per share, near its 52-week low of $1. The stock’s 52-week high is $5.19.
The company reported a net loss of $13 million for the second quarter of 2020 and $61.2 million for the six months ended June 30, compared with a net loss of $23.9 million and $42.5 million, respectively, for the comparable periods in 2019.
Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments totaled $107.9 million as of June 30, down from $129.3 million as of Dec. 31, 2019.
The company in March said it had “significantly scaled back” operations at its Cleveland manufacturing facility as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.