CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 04, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Jounce Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: JNCE), a clinical-stage company focused on the discovery and development of novel cancer immunotherapies and predictive biomarkers, today announced that it has regained the worldwide rights to JTX-8064 from Bristol Myers Squibb. JTX-8064 is a highly-selective, potential first-in-class antibody that targets the Leukocyte Immunoglobulin Like Receptor B2 (LILRB2) on macrophages, and was licensed to Celgene in July 2019. 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.
“We are thrilled to regain the rights to JTX-8064 and 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,” said Richard Murray, Ph.D., chief executive officer and president of Jounce Therapeutics. “The discovery and development of JTX-8064 showcases the strength of our Translational Science Platform in target identification, and our ability to move programs towards the clinic in a rapid manner. In particular, we believe that LILRB2 may function as an immune checkpoint for macrophages and based on our body of existing preclinical data, JTX-8064 has the potential to re-program tumor-associated macrophages within the tumor microenvironment and enhance anti-tumor immunity. We are eager to advance this program into the clinic and will make every effort to do this expeditiously.
In July 2019, Jounce and Celgene, which is now a Bristol Myers Squibb company, announced an exclusive License Agreement for the worldwide rights to JTX-8064. Under the terms of the agreement, Jounce received a $50.0 million non-refundable license fee from Celgene. Effective, June 3, 2020, the License Agreement is terminated. Beyond transition costs and efforts, neither Bristol Myers Squibb or Jounce have any further financial or service obligations to one another. All Jounce intellectual property rights pertaining to JTX-8064 and licensed to Celgene have been reacquired by Jounce.
JTX-8064 is an anti-LILRB2 antibody and is the first tumor-associated macrophage candidate to emerge from Jounce’s Translational Science Platform. Preclinical data presented at the 2019 American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting supports the development of JTX-8064 as a novel immunotherapy to reprogram immune-suppressive macrophages and enhance anti-tumor immunity.
About Jounce Therapeutics
Jounce Therapeutics, Inc. is a clinical-stage immunotherapy company dedicated to transforming the treatment of cancer by developing therapies that enable the immune system to attack tumors and provide long-lasting benefits to patients through a biomarker-driven approach. Jounce currently has four development-stage programs, two of which are clinical-stage: vopratelimab, a monoclonal antibody that binds to and activates ICOS, and JTX-4014, a PD-1 inhibitor intended for combination use with Jounce’s broader pipeline. Vopratelimab is currently being assessed in a Phase 2 clinical trial, EMERGE, and Jounce plans to initiate an additional Phase 2 biomarker trial using TISvopra for patient selection, SELECT, to assess vopratelimab in combination with JTX-4014. Jounce’s IND-enabling preclinical programs include JTX-8064, a LILRB2 receptor antagonist and JTX-1811, a monoclonal antibody designed to selectively deplete T regulatory cells in the tumor microenvironment. For more information, please visit www.jouncetx.com.
Statements in this release concerning Jounce’s future expectations and plans, including without limitation, Jounce’s clinical development strategy and expectations regarding the timing of clinical trials, may constitute forward looking statements for the purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other federal securities laws and are subject to substantial risks, uncertainties and assumptions. You should not place reliance on these forward-looking statements, which include words such as “expect,” “plan,” or similar terms, variations of such terms or the negative of those terms. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, the Company cannot guarantee such outcomes. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, as well as those risks more fully discussed in the section entitled “Risk Factors” in Jounce’s most recent annual report on Form 10-K or quarterly report on Form 10-Q, as well as discussions of potential risks, uncertainties, and other important factors in Jounce’s subsequent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. All such statements speak only as of the date made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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