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UMass biotech to lay off 25 workers

The university says the job cuts will not affect its work on an alternative treatment for Lyme disease.

MassBiologics is working on a monoclonal antibody for Lyme disease that researchers hope will provide immediate, if temporary, immunity to the tick-borne illness.MARGARET ROACH/NYT

MassBiologics, a nonprofit biotech affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School in Worcester, plans to lay off 25 administrative and manufacturing employees in late April, 10 percent of its staff, the university confirmed Thursday.

The biotech is “consolidating its workforce in response to the market-related factors that are currently impacting the life sciences and manufacturing sectors,” the university said in a statement. Employees affected by the layoffs can apply for other openings at the medical school.

Dr. Mark Klempner, executive vice chancellor emeritus, said the layoffs will not affect the biotech’s efforts to win approval of and market a laboratory-made Lyme monoclonal antibody that researchers hope will provide immediate, if temporary, immunity to the tick-borne disease.


An early-stage clinical trial found that the vaccine alternative, called Lyme PrEP, was safe and protected recipients for at least seven months, longer than the typical tick season. Although the protection fades, it comes from a single, fast-acting shot, a distinct advantage over experimental Lyme vaccines that typically require a series of injections over several months.

“There is no impact on the Lyme program or the other research programs that were being conducted at MassBiologics,” Klempner said of the layoffs. “Indeed there is increased support for commercialization of these medicines.”

MassBiologics researchers plan to test Lyme PrEP in a later-stage trial within the next year but first want to license the technology to a drug company.

Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at