ADC Therapeutics calls it quits on solid tumor collaboration with Adagene

ADC Therapeutics is stepping away from a solid tumor pact with Adagene rather than take the collaboration to the next stage.

Details were sparse in Adagene’s Thursday update, which said only that the deal had expired after ADC elected not to sign into a licensing option. Adagene says the two companies remain open to working together in the future. 

The two linked up in April 2019 to combine Adagene’s antibody production platform with ADC’s payload attachment to produce a new antibody-drug conjugate aimed at a solid tumor target. ADC also had the option to tack on one additional target.

Adagene received research funding plus an undisclosed upfront payment, with the potential for additional development and commercial milestone payments. A spokesperson for ADC did not immediately respond when asked whether any milestone payments were triggered.

ADC, like many of its biopharma colleagues, has been in cash preservation mode as it tries to maximize value for approved med Zynlonta. The company announced in May that it would focus on the lowest-risk R&D projects, culling two preclinical assets as a result. Corresponding layoffs left 17% of the company without a job, with the cuts mainly impacting preclinical researchers and employees working in “back office efficiencies.” 

More than two months later, the company scrapped a trial testing Zynlonta combined with Roche’s Rituxan to treat unfit or frail patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The FDA had placed a partial hold on the study after 12 respiratory-related events arose, seven of which led to death. The company concluded that 11 out of the 12 events were not related to the study drug.