Genentech Walks Away From $3B Allogeneic T-Cell Pact with Adaptimmune

Genentech_iStock, Sundry Photography

Pictured: Signage outside Genentech's headquarters in Silicon Valley/iStock, Sundry Photography

Roche subsidiary Genentech has ended its strategic collaboration and licensing agreement for the development of allogeneic T-cell therapies with Adaptimmune Therapeutics, the UK-based biopharma announced on Friday.

Genentech partnered with Adaptimmune in September 2021, paying $150 million upfront and pledging $150 million more over the next five years. Accounting for additional development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments across several programs, the deal had a potential value of more than $3 billion, plus royalties.

The agreement had two main components: allogeneic T-cell therapies for up to five cancer targets and personalized allogeneic T-cell-based programs. Both were still in the discovery phase at the time of the termination, according to Adaptimmune’s website.

An SEC filing last week revealed that the partnership will officially terminate in 180 days, after which Adaptimmune will no longer be entitled to milestone payments, nor will it have development obligations. Beyond the upfront payment, the company has received $35 million under the collaboration.

Adaptimmune did not reveal a specific reason for the termination in its announcement but said that the company “remains focused” on its lead candidate afamitresgene autoleucel (afami-cel), an autologous T-cell therapy candidate that is currently being reviewed by the FDA for advanced synovial sarcoma.

The biopharma completed its rolling Biologics License Application for afami-cel in December 2023, touting strong data from the Phase II SPEARHEAD-1 study, a single-arm, open-label study testing the investigational T-cell therapy in patients with advanced synovial sarcoma and myxoid/round cell liposarcoma. The FDA’s verdict is due on August 4, 2024.

Results from the study were published in The Lancet on Saturday, showing an overall response rate of 39% in patients with synovial sarcoma. More than 70% of patients developed cytokine release syndrome, though only one case was deemed to be grade 3. There were no treatment-related deaths reported.

“We 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 a statement. “We have the resources to deliver afami-cel to market as planned.”

Adaptimmune will hold an Investor Day event on April 18, during which it plans to provide more details regarding the commercial launch of afami-cel.

For Genentech, the termination of the Adaptimmune pact comes days after it announced a 3% workforce reduction across multiple departments. Around 400 patients at the subsidiary will be affected, though no roles at its parent company Roche will be terminated, according to a spokesperson.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at or

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