Cambridge-Based Jounce Files for $75 Million IPO

Cambridge-Based Jounce Therapeutics Files for $75 Million IPO December 30, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Cambridge, Mass. – Jounce Therapeutics filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today that it is launching an initial public offering (IPO) to raise $75 million.

It expects to list on the Nasdaq with the symbol JNCE. JP Morgan and Cowen & Company are the joint bookrunners.

In July, Jounce signed a licensing and development deal with Celgene Corporation that could hit $2.5 billion. As part of that deal, Celgene gets an option on Jounce’s lead product candidate, JTX-2011, a monoclonal antibody that binds to and activates the inducible T-cell CO-Stimulator (ICOS). This protein is found on the surface of specific T-cells and seems to cause a cancer-specific immune response.

The deal also included up to four early-stage programs that Celgene will select from a defined pool of B-cell, T-regulatory cell and tumor-associated macrophage targets. There was also an option to share a checkpoint immune-oncology program. If approved, Jounce will head global development and commercialization of JTX-2011 in the U.S., as well as another collaboration program.

Celgene paid $225 million upfront and a $36 million equity investment. Various regulatory, development and net sales milestones could hit $2.3 billion. There are also potential tiered royalties on sales outside the U.S.

Jounce was founded in 2013 and had raised about $103 million in two rounds of investments from nine investors, including Third Rock Ventures, the founding investors. Series B investors include Casdin Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Foresite Capital, Nextech Invest, Omega Funds, Pharmstandard, Redmile Group, and Wellington Management.

In a July statement, Robert Hershberg, Celgene’s chief scientific officer, said, “Jounce has built a unique immune-oncology platform and pipeline with a focus on the development of novel cancer therapies matched to patient populations most likely to respond. This collaboration allows both companies to leverage broad capabilities in immuno-oncology to bring forward a new generation of product candidates for cancer patients.”

JTX-2011 is by far the furthest along in Jounce’s pipeline. It has JTX-4014 in preclinical trials, and multiple undisclosed targets in target identification or discovery phase.

In September 2016, Jounce announced the enrollment of the first patients in ICONIC, its Phase I/II clinical trial of JTX-2011 in patients with advanced solid tumors. ICONIC stands for ICOS AgONist Antibody for Immunotherapy in Cancer Patients. It has a four-part adaptive design that will start to assess the safety and tolerability of the drug, followed by preliminary efficacy as both a monotherapy and in combination with OPDIVO, a PD-1 inhibitor.

“JTX-2011 is the first clinical program to emerge from our Translational Science Platform, which couples the choice of target mechanism to potential predictive biomarkers of response, and represents a key milestones for Jounce,” said Beth Trehu, Jounce’s chief medical officer, in a September statement. “JTX-2011 is a monoclonal antibody targeting the ICOS receptor that is designed to both stimulate T effector cells and reduce T regulatory cells in tumors, thus shifting the balance of the tumor microenvironment from immunosuppressive towards anti-tumor activity. With this study underway, we are excited to gain important clinical insights on how the unique mechanism of JTX-2011 may benefit patients that have not had success with current standard of care therapies.”

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