Bristol's Celgene merger sees it bounce Jounce drug pact

outside of building
(Bristol Myers Squibb)(Bristol-Myers Squibb)

After culling a $2.6 billion biobucks pact last year, Bristol Myers Squibb is making a second and final cut to its pact with four-year immuno-oncology biotech Jounce Therapeutics.

Last summer, Celgene (now Bristol) restructured its alliance with Jounce, dropping the broad $2.6 billion pact it formed in 2016 while securing full rights to a single asset. The changes cut Celgene’s ties to ICOS and PD-1 programs that overlapped with those in Bristol’s pipeline and portfolio as it prepared to be subsumed into its parent company. 

This old deal was, however, replaced by an agreement covering that new single asset, JTX-8064, a Jounce antibody that targets the LILRB2 receptor found on macrophages.

Bristol/Celgene paid $50 million for the worldwide rights to the preclinical drug, while Jounce was also in line to receive up to $480 million in biobucks. At the time, Bristol/Celgene was set to advance JTX-8064 toward an IND filing.

Now, that drug has been axed, too. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said that: “As part of its Celgene integration process, Bristol Myers Squibb is streamlining its pipeline and addressing areas of overlap. As a result, Bristol Myers Squibb notified Jounce that the JTX-8064 License Agreement is being terminated.”

Jounce said it was “thrilled” to regain the rights to JTX-8064, with CEO Richard Murray, Ph.D., saying: “We view this as a significant opportunity for Jounce. Though we highly valued our longstanding partnership with Celgene, now a Bristol Myers Squibb company, having an additional wholly-owned program enables us to further our mission to discover new immunotherapies from a variety of important immune cell types, and develop them for patients who are not well served by today’s therapies.”

He added that the biotech remains committed and “eager” to advance this program into the clinic and “will make every effort to do this expeditiously.”