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Ziopharm (ZIOP) Down on Workforce Reduction Announcement

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Ziopharm Oncology’s (ZIOP - Free Report) shares fell 11% on Sep 28, after the company announced restructuring plans to advance the T-cell receptor (“TCR”) program.

To advance the restructuring plans, Ziopharm has already eliminated approximately 60 personnel positions, thereby reducing its workforce by half. Per the company, the restructuring plan will allow the extension of its cash runway into first-half 2023.

Ziopharm’s shares have plunged 25.4% so far this year in comparison with the industry’s 2.6% decline.

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The restructuring changes come amid cash requirements by Ziopharm to advance the TCR program. The company also announced that the first patient in the TCR-T Library phase I/II study will now be dosed in first-half 2022, suggesting a delay from the earlier scheduled dosing in second-half 2021.

The unforeseen delay in the clinical study is due to inadequate resources at the company’s contract manufacturer. Resultantly, Ziopharm is investing in its own manufacturing capabilities to accelerate patient dosing in first-half 2022. Ziopharm plans to operationalize internal manufacturing to support early-stage studies.

Per the press release, the company will focus on generating intellectual property for new TCRs targeting hotspot mutations. The company also remains focused on generating clinical data from TCR-T investigational studies.

The TCR-T Library phase I/II clinical study will initially target six individual solid tumor indications - cholangiocarcinoma, colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer. Going forward, the library will also expand to additional indications.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Ziopharm currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the biotech/drug sector include Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD - Free Report) , Moderna (MRNA - Free Report) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN - Free Report) . While both Ironwood and Regeneron sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) at present, Moderna currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Ironwood’s earnings per share estimates for 2021 have increased from $1.21 to $1.27 in the past 60 days. The same for 2022 has risen from $1.20 to $1.43 over the same period. The stock has rallied 17.3% in the year so far.

Moderna’s earnings per share estimates for 2021 have increased from $25.60 to $29.13 in the past 60 days. The same for 2022 has risen from $17.70 to $26.12 over the same period. The stock has rallied 267.8% in the year so far.

Regeneron’s earnings per share estimates for 2021 have increased from $49.91 to $61.41 in the past 60 days. The same for 2022 has risen from $40.91 to $46.73 over the same period. The stock has rallied 25.2% in the year so far.