Adicet CEO retires, leaving interim leader in charge

Boardroom (Image: Jo Johnston / Pixabay)
Adicet burst onto the scene in 2016 with a $51 million series A and partnership with Regeneron. (Jo Johnston/Pixabay)

The CEO of cell therapy startup Adicet Bio has retired, leaving an interim leader in charge while the board searches for a permanent replacement. Aya Jakobovits, Ph.D., is retaining her seat on the board and will serve as a senior strategic adviser but is no longer president and CEO of the company she founded with OrbiMed in 2014.

Adicet executive chairman Donald Santel, who led Hyperion Therapeutics to a $1.1 billion takeover by Horizon Pharma in 2015, has added interim CEO to his responsibilities in the wake of Jakobovits’ departure. Santel will hold the fort while Adicet searches for a permanent replacement.

Menlo Park, California-based Adicet has kept a low public profile since bursting onto the scene with a $51 million series A and partnership with Regeneron in 2016. Those events established Adicet, a Fierce 15 winner, as a notable member of a pack of companies working on off-the-shelf cellular therapies that may offer the anticancer efficacy of autologous CAR-T treatments without the logistical complexity.

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Adicet, a former JLABS resident, bolstered its team with the addition of the former CMO of Acerta Pharma and a chief business officer from Baxalta last year. A subsequent job listing for a process development engineer suggested the biotech has one eye on getting into the clinic. But details of its pipeline remain scarce. 

Jakobovits had looked set to be the person to take Adicet into the clinic. Talking to Xconomy in 2016, the CEO said she was “fully committed to running Adicet for years to come.” Now, Jakobovits, who was the founding CEO of Kite Pharma, is passing on that responsibility to the team she helped to build.

“I am confident in the ability of the team to realize the full potential of our platform technologies and progress our product pipeline to clinical development. I am committed to continuing to provide advice and support,” Jakobovits said in a statement.