Avalanche Biotech CEO Chalberg Resigns After Disappointing Trial

Avalanche Biotechnologies Inc. said Chief Executive Officer Thomas Chalberg Jr. resigned, a month after the company disappointed investors with its study of a gene therapy for a chronic eye disease.

Hans Hull, a senior vice president, was appointed interim CEO while the company searches for Chalberg’s permanent successor. Avalanche said it also plans to add more seats to the board, which is left with four members following Chalberg’s departure.

Avalanche is struggling to recover after the data released in June on its treatment, AVA-101, showed some eye-disease patients still required injections from another drug, Roche Holding AG’s Lucentis. That sent shares plummeting 56 percent in a single day.

The drug is intended to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, or wet AMD. If approved, AVA-101 would be the first gene therapy for the condition and could replace current options made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Roche that require monthly injections in the eye.

Shares of the Menlo Park, California-based company fell 5.3 percent to $15.30 in late trading after the resignation was announced. The stock has lost 70 percent this year through Thursday’s close.

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