Jounce Infused With $56 Million to Develop Cancer Immunotherapy Programs

Jounce Therapeutics Infused With $56 Million to Develop Cancer Immunotherapy Programs
April 23, 2015
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Two-year-old Jounce Therapeutics secured $56 million in Series B financing to bolster its proprietary cancer treatments, the company announced this morning.

Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Jounce’s pipeline of cancer immunotherapy programs, including moving its lead program for Inducible T cell Co-stimulator into clinical testing. The funding will also help Jounce advance a second clinical trial through IND-enabling studies. Additionally the funding will support treatments for tumors that may be less likely to respond to T cell checkpoint monotherapy, including therapies that target innate immune and stromal cells.

Richard Murray, Jounce’s chief executive officer, said in a statement that the three programs will effectively match patients with the appropriate immunotherapies to treat their particular cancers. But what those cancers are has yet to be disclosed. Murray said the funding will help Jounce move closer to human clinical trials for its drug candidates, including the company’s ICOS (T Cell Co Stimulator) agonist monoclonal antibody. Calls by BioSpace to Jounce were not returned by press time.

Jounce has amassed a large collection of human tumors to characterize what types of immune cells comprise them.

Cancer immunotherapy is the use of the body’s immune system to reject or attack cancerous cells and tumors, however, immunotherapies for cancer has had limited success with patients. Still, immunotherapies used for oncology has become a top focus for many pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Merck & Co. and Roche. There is a belief that immunotherapies could replace traditional chemotherapy for cancer treatments, which makes the companies developing these treatments attractive to investors.

The $56 million cash infusion is the second large funding bundle secured by Jounce. When the company formed in 2013, it received a $47 million cash infusion by Third Rock Ventures.

Third Rock did not participate in this round of financing. Participation included Wellington Management Company, Redmile Group, Nextech Invest, Pharmstandard International, S.A., Cormorant Asset Management, Omega Funds, Casdin Capital and Foresite Capital Management. Additionally an undisclosed blue chip public investment fund also participated, according to a press release.

“We believe that Jounce has built a differentiated approach rooted in strong discovery and translational science capabilities that position it to bring the next wave of innovation to the field,” said Michael Lee, co-founding partner of Redmile Group.

Jounce could be headed to a public offering, but Murray told the Boston Globe there is no timetable for that to happen because the company is focused on taking its drug candidates to trial.

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