One biotech gasps for breath

Around noon on a sunny Wednesday in mid-May, 25 or so employees of the Waltham, Mass-based biotech linkurl:Altus Pharmaceuticals;http://www.altus.com/ are unwrapping their offerings for a company-wide potluck; orzo salad, meatballs, curried cauliflower, chicken wings, fancy fruits, and an assortment of sweets soon cover a long table by the kitchen's window. "What is this, the last supper?" quips Nazer Khalaf, a small, round-faced man with a salt and pepper moustache, and at 15 years, Altus's mo

Alla Katsnelson
Aug 9, 2009
Around noon on a sunny Wednesday in mid-May, 25 or so employees of the Waltham, Mass-based biotech linkurl:Altus Pharmaceuticals;http://www.altus.com/ are unwrapping their offerings for a company-wide potluck; orzo salad, meatballs, curried cauliflower, chicken wings, fancy fruits, and an assortment of sweets soon cover a long table by the kitchen's window. "What is this, the last supper?" quips Nazer Khalaf, a small, round-faced man with a salt and pepper moustache, and at 15 years, Altus's most veteran employee.
Yellow stickers in the company's
lab mark equipment to be sold

Georges Gemayel, Altus's CEO, laughs, but Khalaf's humor carries a cutting element of truth: Early this year, the company laid off approximately 75% of its employees, bringing it down from about 135 people to 35. In May, the group moved from two spacious buildings to half of one of them; many of the offices stand empty, and much of the equipment in...
Crystallized human growth hormone, ALTU-238
Image: Altus