Medical Innovation Exchange

Axcella gets the ax: Flagship-founded biotech closes doors after 12-year run

Flagship-founded Axcella Health is closing its doors, with stockholders approving the dissolution of the metabolic modulator biotech yesterday.

Founded by Flagship Pioneering in 2011, the public biotech—previously known as Axcella Therapeutics—will be liquidating and dissolving, according to Dec. 4 documents filed with the SEC.

The vote follows the Nov. 1 termination of President and CEO William Hinshaw, Jr., as well as Chief Legal Officer Paul Fehlner, as the biotech prepared for the company’s closure. 

The company has been struggling for at least the last year, restructuring in December 2022 with an 85% workforce reduction that included the company’s Chief Financial Officer Robert Crane and Chief People Officer Virginia Dean. The company also suspended a phase 2b clinical trial assessing AXA1125—an orally active mixture of amino acids—for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, choosing to instead focus on treating long COVID.

Clearly, those efforts didn’t pan out. Axcella now joins an extensive list of companies that have entered the biotech graveyard this year, including another Flagship-founded business in Rubius Therapeutics. Flagship has declined Fierce Biotech’s request for comment.

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