Gracell drops 3 CAR-T programs in hopes of speeding more advanced assets to the finish line

Gracell Biotechnologies is shaving down its CAR-T pipeline, throwing several programs out the window in an effort to speed its most advanced programs to the finish line. 

The China-based biotech is keeping the “front-runners” and “slowing down some of the early programs,” CEO William Cao, Ph.D., said on an Aug. 14 earnings call. Gracell now has three candidates in the clinic compared to six noted in the first quarter. 

GC019F, a CD19 program targeting advanced B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, has been cut. The CAR-T was being assessed in a phase 1 clinical trial. The second program left behind is GC027, an allogenic CAR-T designed to treat relapsed or refractory T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Lastly, Gracell dropped GC503, a mesothelin program designed to treat solid tumors.

The company hopes to instead focus on the dual-targeting therapy GC012F derived from the company’s FasTCAR-T autologous platform made for next-day manufacturing. Last year at the American Society of Hematology 2022 annual meeting, Gracell revealed data on the BCMA/CD19 dual-targeting CAR-T therapy showing a 100% tumor response rate in patients with multiple myeloma during a phase 1 trial in China.

The asset is being studied in several indications, the most advanced of which is a U.S. phase 1b/2 trial in patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma.

After completing a $150 million private placement financing earlier this month, Gracell anticipates its current cash will stretch into the second half of 2026, Chief Financial Officer Kevin Xie, Ph.D., said on the earnings call.