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What To Know About Jounce's Amended Licensing Deal With Celgene

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Jounce Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: JNCE) shares are trading higher after the company announced an amended licensing agreement with Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG), the latter of which has agreed to be acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE: BMY).

Out-Licensing Tumor-treatment Candidate

Jounce said Tuesday afternoon it signed an new licensing agreement with Celgene, out-licensing to Celgene the worldwide rights to its JTX-8064.

JTX-8064 is an antibody that targets the leukocyte immunoglobulin like receptor B2, or LILRB2, found on macrophages, which are a type of white blood cells that removes bacteria and dead cells and play a key role in immune response. When LILRB2 binds to the receptor, it induces anti-tumor response.

The licensing fetched Jounce a $50 million non-refundable license fee, with potential development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments up to $480 million. Jounce is eligible to receive royalties on potential worldwide side.

Jounce and Celgene initially had a broad strategic collaboration agreement valued up to $2.6 billion, which was signed in 2016.

See Also: The Daily Biotech Pulse: Jounce Jumps On Licensing Deal, Regulus Hit With Partial Clinical Hold, Genomic Health Added to S&P SmallCap Index

Jounce Assumes Full Control of Rest of Pipeline

Following the mutual agreement between Celegene and Jounce to terminate their original strategic collaboration agreement, Jounce retained the full worldwide rights to its pipeline beyond JTX-8064, which include vopratelimab, JTX-4014 and all discovery programs.

As Celgene inches closer to consummate its merger with Bristol-Myers, the decision to give up rights to PD-1 inhibitor JTX-4014 being evaluated for solid tumors and vopratelimab seems logical. Bristol-Myers Squibb has its own PD-1 inhibitor in Opdivo.

Similarly, Jounce's anti-ICOS agonist JTX-2011 would have been superfluous, as Bristol-Myers Squibb has its own anti-ICOS agonist in a Phase 1/2 trial.

Upcoming Catalysts For Jounce

Jounce expects to release preliminary efficacy data and biomarker relationships to clinical outcomes from the ongoing EMERGE Phase 2 study in 2020. The study is evaluating vopratelimab in combination with ipilimumab in patients with non-small cell lung cancer or urothelial cancer.

The company said it's on track identifying the recommended Phase 2 dose of its PD-1 inhibitor JTX-4014 in 2019.

Jounce's stock traded higher by 10% to $4.51 at time of publication.

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