Adaptimmune, Monte Rosa and Intellia discontinue programs

Many hoped the end of 2023 would bring some solace for biotech after nearly two years of challenging market conditions. As the year nears its end, that relief remains largely out of reach, as cuts to both teams and pipelines continue to climb. Today, at least three more biotechs have tossed candidates into the ever-growing pile of discontinued programs.

First up is Adaptimmune Therapeutics, a biotech terminating two programs dubbed Gavo-cel and TC-510. After a review of safety and efficacy data for both candidates, the T-cell therapy company didn’t “see a path forward” for further development of either programs, according to a third-quarter earnings release.

Gavo-vel was a phase 2 autologous cell therapy that had an overall response rate (ORR) of 11% across patients with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. Meanwhile, cell therapy TC-510 was tied to one partial response in mesothelioma out of five patients with varying cancers but a high incidence of cytokine release syndrome and pneumonitis.

The blow comes after GSK paid Adaptimmune 30 million pounds ($37.3 million) to wipe its hands of two programs this spring. One of the programs was lete-cel, an asset Adaptimmune had at one point touted as its leading cell therapy.

As the biotech awaits an FDA approval decision for its investigational therapy targeting MAGE-A4 in solid tumors, dubbed Afami-cel, discovery work will continue with Roche’s Genentech on two allogeneic programs.   

The second biotech cutting programs is Monte Rosa Therapeutics, a Boston-based biotech with a molecular glue platform. In a move to prioritize resources, the company is discontinuing an early-stage sickle cell program. Not much is known beyond that, as little was publicly revealed about the discovery program. The company will focus on other programs, such as its clinical-stage GSPT1-directed candidate called MRT-2359 and work with Roche, who inked a deal last month for the use of Monte Rosa’s QuEEN platform to target cancer and neurological diseases previously considered out of reach.

Last but not least is Intellia Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based company using CRISPR-based tech to build in vivo and ex vivo therapies. The biotech is halting all further preclinical activities for NTLA-2003, an asset designed to treat a rare, inherited disorder called AATD-associated liver disease.

Instead, Intellia intends to advance a different AATD research-stage program that uses the company’s DNA writing technology. Intellia, which reported earnings this morning, saw its stock tumble 12% from $28.45 at market open this morning to $25.03 at 11 a.m. ET. 

Less than a month ago, Intellia received the FDA green light to study NTLA-2001, an in vivo CRISPR-based gene editing therapy in the U.S. The company worked with sites in Europe and New Zealand to study the therapy in a phase 1 trial and showed NTLA-2001 may safely reduce levels of misfolded TTR, a protein that drives the rare, life-threatening disease ATTR amyloidosis. The new FDA allowance positions the company to start a phase 3 trial of the Regeneron-partnered candidate by the end of the year.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 9:30 a.m. ET Nov. 10 with revisions to information provided about lete-cel.