Genentech axes Adaptimmune cell therapy deal as it presses ahead with staff cuts

In the same week that Genentech confirmed it's cutting 3% of its staff, the Roche subsidiary has terminated a cell therapy partnership with Adaptimmune Therapeutics worth up to $3 billion biobucks.

The collaboration, inked in 2021, was a licensing deal focused on the development of two types of allogeneic T-cell therapies: off-the-shelf therapies directed to up to five targets and personalized therapies using αβ T-cell receptors isolated from a patient, with these therapies being administered to the same patient.

At the time, Genentech paid out $150 million in cash. Since then, Adaptimmune has earned $35 million in milestone payments. The deal termination will set in 180 days after notice of the decision was received, meaning the terms of the pact are effective until then, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Adaptimmune received word of the termination on Wednesday, according to the filing.

The Adaptimmune news comes shortly after Genentech confirmed to Fierce Biotech that it would be trimming roughly 3% of its workforce across "several departments.” Earlier this year, the biotech's parent company Roche announced cuts to its product development team.

“Note that this limited reduction will allow us to shift resources to the areas that we believe can provide the greatest impact for patients,” a Genentech spokesperson told Fierce Biotech in an emailed statement. “We are actively hiring in a number of areas to bring forward our most promising molecules and capabilities, and we project that the overall workforce across Roche will remain stable throughout 2024.”

For Adaptimmune, the termination comes almost exactly one year after another pharma discontinued work with the biotech. In April 2023, GSK paid Adaptimmune $37.3 million to wipe its hands of two programs, one of which included lete-cel, an asset the company at one point touted as its leading cell therapy.

Then, in November, Adaptimmune axed two programs dubbed Gavo-cel and TC-510. After a review of safety and efficacy data for both candidates, the U.K. company said it didn’t “see a path forward” for further development of either programs.

Now, the company has zoomed in on launching afami-cel—which has snagged FDA priority review and is slated for an FDA decision by or on August 4 of this year—for patients with advanced synovial sarcoma.

"We've had a very valuable collaboration with our partner Genentech, and we continue to believe in the long-term potential of our iPSC-based allogeneic platform,” Adaptimmune CEO Adrian Rawcliffe said in an April 12 release. “Over the past 12 months, we've been resolutely focused on our late-stage autologous pipeline—in particular, our sarcoma franchise. We have the resources to deliver afami-cel to market as planned, and I look forward to updating on progress at our investor day next week."