Jounce set to make first biotech IPO of 2017

Immuno-oncology biotech company Jounce Therapeutics is set to go public this year after filing with the US financial regulator at the end of 2016.

The Cambridge, MA based company is aiming to raise $75 million in its initial public offering to help finance the development of its lead candidate, JTX-2011.

JTX-2011 is a monoclonal antibody that binds to and activates the Inducible T Cell CO-Stimulator (ICOS), a protein on the surface of certain T cells that is believed to stimulate an immune response against a patient’s cancer.

The company entered into a global collaboration with Celgene worth up to $2.6 billion in July 2016 to develop JTX-2011 and up to four early stage programmes. These will be taken from Jounce’s diverse pool of targets, which includes B cell, T regulatory cell and tumour-associated macrophages.

JTX-2011 began phase 1/2 trials in September last year, and will enter a fiercely competitive and fast-moving cancer immunotherapy field.

The company’s chief executive is Richard Murray, who joined the firm from Merck & Co in 2014, where he was senior VP of biologic and vaccines research.

Investors will be watching the success of Jounce’s launch closely, as the last 12 months have seen the market environment for biotech IPOs become less hospitable.

Around half of the biotech companies which floated on the markets in 2016 saw their share price sink after launch, and there are also signs companies are attracting fewer new investors.

Successful IPOs of 2016 included three hotly-tipped CRISPR companies: Editas, Intellia and CRISPR Therapeutics. However Bavarian Nordic, GenSight and BioCardia all had to call off or delay their IPOs due to unfavourable market signals.

Jounce have yet to announce its IPO prices or a date, though safety data from JTX-2011 trials are expected in Q2 and could impact the timeline. What’s for sure is that Jounce’s floatation and subsequent performance will set the tone for other biotech companies hoping to go public this year.

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