The chairman and chief executive officer as well as six board members are out as part of an executive suite shakeup at financially troubled drug developer

Adherex technologies, which trades its stock on the Toronto stock exchange (symbol AHX), has reshuffled its board and management team as part of a strategic reorganization and refocusing of the company.

In May, Adherex reported a first-quarter loss of $2.2 million, said its working capital had been cut to $1.7 million and had only enough “capital resources to fund operations into August 2009.”

“However, if a strategic transaction or other source of further financial resources cannot be secured in the very near term, we might cease operations sooner,” Adherex said at that time.

On Monday came a host of changes.

Robert Butts is the new chairman of the board. He also is a principal at Southpoint Capital, which is the company’s largest shareholder.

Taking over as chief executive officer is Rosty Raykov, who is an Adherex shareholder and is familiar with the Triangle. He earned his undergraduate business degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Raykov also is a former investment banker and is general part at the private investment partnership DCML.

The new board and management lineup will focus what it called its “remaining resources” on the cancer drug candidate Eniluracil, which was invented by Thomas Spector while working at the former Burroughs Wellcome Laboratories. Burroughs Wellcome later became part of GlaxoSmithKline.

As part of the shakeup, Spector also was named the company’s chief scientific officer. A former international vice president at GlaxoWellcome, Spector has more than 35 years of experience in drug research.

"I am excited to be working with the new team to advance the development of (Eniluracil),” Spector said in a statement. “When administered correctly, this therapy has potential to bring significant benefit to cancer patients."

Added Raykov: “I am elated that after 15 years, the future development of eniluracil will once again be overseen by Dr. Spector,” Raykov said in a statement.

Robert Andrade, who also is a general partner at DCMl, was named vice president of Adherex.

Chairman and CEO William Peters resigned and also left the Adherex board. Also leaving the board are Robin Norris, Fred Mermelstein, Donald Kufe, Michael Martin and Peter Morand.

Robert Butts, Arthur Porter, Claudio Bussandri and William Breen remain on the board.

Adherex noted that the remainder of its management team “remains unchanged at this time.”