Cancer Biotech Janux Therapeutics Files for $100 Million IPO

Janux plans to use the funds raised from the IPO to submit four Investigational New Drug applications to the U.S. FDA in the first half of 2022.

Janux Therapeutics filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) an initial public offering (IPO) to raise $100 million. This comes about a month after the company closed on a Series B financing round worth $125 million.

The San Diego-based company focuses on next-generation therapies built on its Tumor Activated T-Cell Engager (TRACTr) technology platform. T-cell engagers are a new class of immunotherapies. They bind to a cancer cell and recruit the patient’s T-cells to attack the cancer cells.

The company’s TRACTr technology is engineered to overcome limitations of current immuno-oncology T-cell therapies, primarily dose-limiting toxicities, poor pharmacokinetic profiles, and limited efficacy. TRACTr should be better by integrating tumor-specific activation with “crossover pharmacokinetics.”

In preclinical research, the TRACTr compound candidates have shown comparative anti-tumor activity compared to standard T-cell engagers but do not have as many issues related to cytokine release, healthy tissue toxicities, or systemic immune activation.

Prior to the IPO announcement, Janux raised $201 million from investors since its founding in 2017. It was founded in the Avalon Ventures accelerator, COI Pharmaceuticals, in San Diego. Its pipeline candidates are against specific tumor markers, PSMA, EGFR and TROP2.

The Series B financing round was led by RA Capital Management and joined by new investors BVF Partners, EcoR1 Capital, Hartford HealthCare Endowment, Janus Henderson Investors, Logos Capital, Samsara BioCapital, and Surveyor Capital. Existing investors also participated, including OrbiMed, Avalon Ventures, and Bregua.

At the time, Jake Simson, partner at RA Capital Management, stated, “RA Capital believes that Janux’s proprietary technology has the potential to unlock the next generation of immunotherapies, and we are excited about the significant potential that this platform holds for a breadth of highly prevalent solid tumors. We are impressed with the preclinical data from Janux’s wholly-owned TRACTr drug candidates showing the potential to harness the potent tumor-killing properties of T cells.”

Janux plans to use the funds raised from the IPO to submit four Investigational New Drug (IND) applications to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the first half of 2022.

The lead program is PSMA-TRACTr for metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer (mCRPC). The next two are EGFR-TRACTr for colorectal cancer and head and neck cancer and TROP2-TRACTR for triple-negative breast cancer, urothelial cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. The least advanced program is Costim bispecific, targeting PC-L1xCD28 in solid tumors.

It is expected to list on the Nasdaq under the JANX ticker symbols.

On December 18, 2020, Janux announced a strategic collaboration and license deal with Merck to discover, develop and market next-generation T-cell engager immunotherapies. Merck received an exclusive worldwide license to products and intellectual property that came out of the collaboration against two cancer targets picked by Merck.

Janux received up to $500.5 million per target in upfront and milestone payments as well as royalties on sales of any products that might come out of it. Merck will pay for research and development costs under the collaboration.

“At Janux, we have developed a technology to engineer best-in-class T-cell engagers that are potent and highly tumor specific, which is essential for an immune response that kills tumor cells but spares healthy tissue,” said David Campbell, president and chief executive officer of Janux Therapeutics.

“Partnering with Merck, a world leader in immuno-oncology, provides us with important expertise and resources in developing next generation T-cell engager therapies that will make immunotherapy work for more cancer patients.”