Leschly steps down as 2seventy wields the axe


2seventy bio is slashing 40% of its workforce to conserve cash as it tries to build momentum for its FDA-approved CAR-T therapy, while chief executive Nick Leschly is also stepping down.

The restructuring will claim 176 jobs and also see some R&D programmes shelved at the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based oncology company, in order to save $130 million in costs over the next two years and keep it funded into 2026.

It also plans to focus more of its attention on Abecma (idecabtagene vicleucel) - its BCMA-targeted CAR-T therapy for multiple myeloma, partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb - as well as expand an R&D collaboration with JW Therapeutics and prioritise its pipeline CAR-T bbT369 for relapsed and/or refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Leschly – who is not leaving the company, but will transition to the role of chairman once a new CEO is found – said that the "macro environment for oncology cell therapy companies and the near-term headwinds" seen in the company's own business have led it to examine how it pursues its mission.

Abecma was approved in 2021 as the first anti-BCMA CAR-T for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, after four or more lines of therapy, and BMS and 2seventy are working to move it up the treatment pathway into the second-line or later setting with an FDA decision on that due in December.

The therapy is facing a big challenge in the market from Johnson & Johnson and Legend Biotech's Carvykti (ciltacabtagene autoleucel), also currently approved as a fifth-line option, which is considered by some analysts to have stronger clinical data.

2seventy, which was spun out of bluebird bio in 2021, splits US profits from Abecma, which made second-quarter sales of $32 million, $115 million of that from the US, down from $147 million in the first quarter of the year and well short of analyst expectations.

Carvykti, meanwhile, moved in the opposite direction, with sales rising from $72 million in the first quarter to $117 million in the second as J&J and Legend dealt with some preliminary manufacturing capacity issues. The CAR-T also has data backing second-line or later use, with an FDA decision due in April next year.

2seventy is now expecting a decline in sales of Abecma in the third quarter, and also that US revenue for the therapy in 2023 is likely to be lower than its earlier prediction of $470 million to $570 million, but said it "remains confident in Abecma's long-term commercial potential."