Five months after Celgene partnered with Jounce Therapeutics on a $2.56 billion development deal, the Cambridge, MA-based biotech is ending the year with a $75 million IPO bid.
Now at the Phase I/II stage of development, Jounce was launched by Third Rock and gained attention for an immuno-oncology strategy that involved in amping up an immune system attack on cancer. Celgene bought in to the company with $261 million for equity and an upfront in July. The first batch of safety and efficacy data are expected next year. And there’s also a PD-1 checkpoint program in the works for future combo programs.
Third Rock still owns a majority of the company, according to the IPO, with 53% of the stock. Fidelity owns 12%, Celgene weighs in at 11.4% and Murray has a 2.5% stake in the company.
The lead drug says a lot about Jounce. It’s focused on ICOS, AKA the Inducible T cell CO-Stimulator, a protein on the surface of T cells Jounce believes can spur an immune response against a patient’s cancer. Immuno-oncology has been at the crossroads of a multitude of deals over the past three years, and Celgene clearly wants to be in the front end of the second wave — what Jounce CEO Rich Murray calls immuno-oncology 2.0 — after Bristol-Myers and Merck led the way with Opdivo and Keytruda for checkpoint inhibition.
2016 has seen a sharp drop off in the number of new biotech IPOs after a fierce run-upfrom 2013-2015. A rocky market has soured generalists’ interest in biotech, and a notable series of late-stage flops have done nothing to generate renewed interest in the high-risk field. Now Jounce will be among the first to see if that trend can change in the year ahead.
The best place to read Endpoints News? In your inbox.
Full-text daily reports for those who discover, develop, and market drugs. Join 21,000+ biopharma pros who read Endpoints News by email every day.Free Subscription