2seventy Bio slashes 176 jobs and looks for new CEO after cell therapy setback

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2seventy bio, the spinoff from bluebird bio, is undergoing significant changes under the leadership of CEO Nick Leschly. The company is faced with increasing pressure from rival drugs affecting its approved cell therapy, prompting a major restructuring. To secure its financial stability until 2026, 2seventy bio is eliminating 176 positions and scaling back its internal R&D programs.

The decision to separate its oncology and rare disease segments, aiming for more focused teams, was made by bluebird bio some two years ago. However, 2seventy, now exclusively focused on oncology, has encountered challenges that necessitate a rethink of its strategy. This restructuring will result in a 40% reduction in the company’s workforce and a shift in its R&D approach.

Nick Leschly, who is transitioning from CEO to Chairman, explained that these changes are a response to the evolving landscape in oncology cell therapy and the specific challenges faced by 2seventy. While U.S. sales of Abecma, 2seventy’s BCMA cell therapy developed in partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb, reached $115 million in the second quarter, putting the company on track to meet its lower-end revenue target, Leschly cautioned that the competitive landscape has intensified, potentially affecting their goals.

The downsizing of the workforce is expected to yield annual savings of approximately $65 million, enabling 2seventy to sustain its operations until 2026, even if Abecma sales fall short of expectations. While research on CAR-T cell therapies like bbT369 (a dual-targeted CD79a/CD20 candidate) and SC-DARIC33 (targeting CD33) continues, uncertainties surround their long-term prospects. A phase 1 trial for bbT369 is progressing more slowly than anticipated, leading to a cost structure adjustment for the asset. 

Further investment will be contingent on the achievement of significant efficacy milestones. 2seventy is also working with the FDA to restart a phase 1 trial for SC-DARIC33, but investment in the asset will be limited to the current study.

Overall, 2seventy bio plans to collaborate more closely with “select academic centers” and JW Therapeutics to advance its drug candidates. The company partnered with Chinese CAR-T player JW Therapeutics almost a year ago to explore solid tumor candidates. The partnership was recently expanded to encompass an additional solid tumor program and the first human assessment of an autoimmune-directed CAR-T candidate.

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