What happened

Shares of AnaptysBio (ANAB -2.18%), a clinical-stage biotechnology company, fell in response to the imminent departure of Dominic Piscitelli, the company's CFO since 2017. Investors were worried that Piscitelli's resignation announcement signaled trouble for the company's lead candidate etokimab and pounded the stock 13.6% lower on Tuesday.

So what 

Over the past couple of years, AnaptysBio has shifted the focus for etokimab, a potential first-in-class IL-33 inhibitor, away from peanut allergy prevention and toward the treatment of eczema, chronic sinusitis, and asthma. Shifting focus isn't necessarily bad but it doesn't inspire confidence, either. In June, AnaptysBio shares fell after Regeneron (REGN -0.34%) announced disappointing results from a clinical trial with another IL-33 inhibitor.

Woman with glasses, high heels, and business outfit looking at a red downward sloping arrow that's crashing through the ground.

Image source: Getty Images.

As a pre-commercial company, AnaptysBio needs to get a new drug application into the hands of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as soon as possible. Following signals that don't bode well for etokimab's future, the abrupt departure of a CFO ahead of some important readouts has been taken as a sign of trouble.

Now what

There are two midstage clinical trials with etokimab scheduled to read out before the end of the year. Investors should realize that right now, independent data monitors are the only people who know which patients received etokimab and which were given placebos. That means Piscitelli shouldn't have any more knowledge about etokimab's upcoming results than the rest of us.

While the abrupt departure of an executive at this pivotal time is somewhat troubling, odds are that Piscitelli's simply reacting to another job offer. If investors are looking for potential signs of trouble with etokimab, increasing activity around AnaptysBio's less advanced pipeline is probably a more accurate signal.