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Cancer therapy developer Five Prime to cut jobs in effort to save costs

Five Prime Therapeutics Inc. said it was reducing its headcount by 20% to save some $10 million in costs throughout 2019.

The South San Francisco, Calif.-based developer of medicines said the decision would help focus its resources on five cancer programs. The company employs 216 people, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, and 41 employees will be let go.

The positions eliminated are primarily in areas relating to research, pathology and manufacturing, and will result in the company paying about $2 million in severance and other costs related to the restructuring, mainly during the first quarter of 2019. However, the move will result in additional savings in 2020 and beyond due to lower ongoing personnel expense.

"While we are on track for multiple data read-outs and potential phase advances from our pipeline in 2019, the executive team and board felt it was necessary to sharpen our focus on our current clinical programs and the advancement of our later-stage research initiatives," Five Prime CEO Aron Knickerbocker said in a statement.

Five Prime expects to end 2019 with $148 million to $153 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities. The company has no debt and ended 2018 with $270 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities which it said was sufficient to fund programs through multiple data readouts.