Jounce upsizes IPO, beats range to land $104M for I-O trials

Jounce Therapeutics has upsized its IPO and beaten the anticipated price range, bumping up its final haul to $104 million. The Celgene-partnered immuno-oncology player will use the cash to advance a solid tumor program and complementary anti-PD-1 antibody down the pipeline.

When Jounce filed to go public late last year, it set its sights on pulling in $75 million. Ultimately, Jounce easily cleared that target by increasing the size of the offering and dialling up the price to $16 a piece, $1 above the top of the target range. The upshot is Jounce now has a sizable pile of cash to bankroll the advance of its lead candidate, JTX-2011.

Under its original, less-lucrative IPO plan, Jounce earmarked $30 million to wrap up a multi-arm phase 1/2 trial of the drug. The study is intended to give Jounce safety, dosing and efficacy data to demonstrate JTX-2011 works as expected. JTX-2011 is a monoclonal antibody designed to trigger an immune response by activating a protein found on the surface of some T cells. Jounce thinks JTX-2011 ramps up the response of T effector cells while damping down the activity of T regulatory cells, resulting in it both pressing the accelerator and releasing the brakes on the immune system.

Having only started a phase 1/2 trial of JTX-2011 in August, Jounce is yet to deliver clinical safety data, let alone evidence of efficacy. Yet, with Jounce pitching itself as a leader in the second wave of immuno-oncology—and its deal with Celgene adding weight to its claim—investors have moved decisively to get in on the ground floor.

With the IPO now in the bag, Jounce is equipped to deliver safety data from the phase 1/2 trial in the first half of the year. Preliminary proof-of-concept data are due to follow before 2017 is over. The clinical efficacy data will look at JTX-2011 in patients with solid tumors including non-small-cell lung cancer and melanoma in isolation and in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo.

In the longer term, Jounce hopes to pair JTX-2011 with its own anti-PD-1 antibody, JTX-4014. Jounce plans to use upward of $25 million of the IPO funds to take JTX-4014 into the clinic and gather the data it needs to start using it in combination with JTX-2011.