J&J cell Therapy deal falls apart, leaving patients and employees in the lurch.

Fate Therapeutics started 2023 with a massive restart of its business. After ending its partnership with Johnson & Johnson, the cell therapy biotech decided to cut staff and end several clinical development programs to expand its cash base.

The update includes several elements and makes Destiny look distinctly different. First, the end of JandJ’s contract Big Pharma paid Fate $50 million upfront while making a $50 million investment and $3 billion in milestones to build new CAR-NK and CAR-T cell product candidates in 2020. The partnership looked set to materialize in the fourth quarter of 2022 when the IND application and the exercise of another trade option resulted in a milestone payment of $13 million to Fate. 

According to Janssen Bioteknik, a division of JandJ RandD, has offered to extend the collaboration and option agreement on revised terms.Fate rejected the proposal, triggering the end of the partnership and triggering a chain of events, as Fate CEO Scott Wolchko explained in a statement.
“We are disappointed that we could not agree with Janssen on their proposal to continue our collaboration, where two product candidates targeting valuable, clinically validated hematological antigens were scheduled to enter clinical development in 2023,” said Wolchko. 

“As a result, we prioritized our clinical programs and significantly reduced our operating costs, including a difficult and painful reduction in our workforce, to ensure three years of cash flow.”

Prioritizing clinical programs goes well beyond minor pipelines. Fate is suspending its FT516; FT596; FT538; and FT536 NK cell programs. The candidates formed the core of Fate’s clinical cell therapy pipeline. The changes represent a withdrawal from efforts to develop cell therapy for indications such as acute myeloid leukemia, B-cell lymphoma, and solid tumors.

As part of the new RandD strategy, Fate is prioritizing its CD19-targeted CAR NK cell program for blood cancers and severe autoimmune diseases, as well as its FT576 CAR NK cell program for multiple myeloma, its FT819 CAR T cell program for B-cell lymphoma, and its Ono Pharmaceutical Alliance FT825 CAR T cell program for solid tumors.

The weight of the rethinking is carried by the staff of fate.At the end of 2021,Nine employees worked in biotechnology last year; this number increased to five this year.After structural changes, Sorto now employs 220 people. Mark Plavsic, Ph.D., CTO of Destiny, is the most notable victim of the restructuring. Destiny expects Plavsic to leave in March and complete the roster cuts in the first quarter.

The purpose of the changes is to give luck more time. The company made a significant profit in the fourth quarter.
75 million. But with management looking to maintain a three-year financial path in a difficult financial environment, Fate has begun massive layoffs to ensure cash flows through 2025.

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