Third Rock Ventures announced Thursday the formation of Jounce Therapeutics, a company focused on developing cancer immunotherapies. Jounce is backed by a $47 million Series A financing round, Third Rock said in a written release.
Third Rock Ventures, LLC today announced the formation of Jounce Therapeutics, Inc. with a $47 million Series A financing of the company. Jounce is focused on the discovery and development of first-in-class cancer immunotherapies designed to harness the patient’s immune system to seek out and attack cancerous cells and tumors. This transformational approach, as compared to more traditional approaches of targeting the tumor directly, has the potential to drive durable responses to treatment, extending and improving patients’ quality of life for years.
“This is an exciting time as the promise of cancer immunotherapy is beginning to be realized. With key recent advances in cancer immunotherapy, we have gained invaluable insights into how the immune system recognizes tumors and a better understanding of effective cancer immunotherapy discovery and development”
Jounce was founded by world leaders in the fields of immunobiology, cancer biology and clinical and translational medicine – James P. Allison, Ph.D., chair, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Immunology, whose research led to the clinical development of ipilimumab (Yervoy™); Padmanee (Pam) Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, department of genitourinary medical oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center; Thomas F. Gajewski, M.D., Ph.D., professor, departments of pathology and medicine, University of Chicago; Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D., professor and co-director, cancer immunology and hematopoiesis program, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University; and Louis M. Weiner, M.D., director, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, professor and chair, department of oncology, Georgetown University Medical Center. Additionally, Robert Schreiber, Ph.D., alumni endowed professor of pathology and immunology and professor of molecular microbiology at the Washington University School of Medicine, is serving as a special adviser to the company.
“This is an exciting time as the promise of cancer immunotherapy is beginning to be realized. With key recent advances in cancer immunotherapy, we have gained invaluable insights into how the immune system recognizes tumors and a better understanding of effective cancer immunotherapy discovery and development,” said Dr. Allison. “Jounce has brought together an expert team and powerful capabilities to discover and develop novel treatments that harness the power of the immune system, marking a significant step forward in the way we treat cancer.”
Jounce’s proprietary product engine enables the exploration of multiple mechanisms of action and a broad spectrum of targets. The company’s capabilities and expertise include tumor immunobiology, antibody discovery and optimization and integrated translational science capabilities, including novel in vivo tumor model systems and other clinically-based approaches. Jounce is leveraging these capabilities to build a robust pipeline of first-in-class biologic product candidates. The Series A financing enables the company to build its product engine and rapidly advance its lead programs to the clinic.
“Our goal at Third Rock Ventures is to launch and build companies that dramatically impact and improve patients’ lives. Cancer immunotherapies have shown the potential to not just incrementally enhance patients’ quality of life, but to significantly improve their long-term survival,” said Cary Pfeffer, M.D., interim chief executive officer of Jounce and partner at Third Rock Ventures. “Jounce has assembled a world-leading team that is at the forefront of the new understanding of the power and potential of cancer immunotherapies. We are uniquely positioned to rapidly develop our pipeline and, ultimately, deliver on our goal of improving patients’ lives.”
In addition to Dr. Pfeffer, a proven entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business development and transaction experience, the Jounce Therapeutics founding management team includes Robert Tepper, M.D., interim chief scientific officer, partner at Third Rock Ventures and former president of R&D at Millennium Pharmaceuticals; Robert Kamen, Ph.D., interim chief technology officer, entrepreneur-in-residence at Third Rock Ventures and former president of Abbott Bioresearch Center and Michael Briskin, Ph.D., vice president, research, and former senior director of immunology at Merrimack Pharmaceuticals. Also joining the company is Jigar Raythatha, chief business officer, former head of corporate development at Constellation Pharmaceuticals.
About Cancer Immunotherapy
Cancer immunotherapy is the use of the body’s immune system to reject or attack cancerous cells and tumors. Cancer immunotherapy is not a new approach – it was first explored more than 100 years ago when, on a rare occasion, cancer patients who contracted infections after surgery appeared to fare better, probably due to the more activated state of their immune system. Cancer immunotherapy has made enormous strides forward in the last decade. Recent approvals and successful clinical trials of cancer immunotherapy treatments have built momentum in the space, improved knowledge about how the immune system recognizes and attacks tumors, and led to a better understanding of effective trial design for these therapies. Cancer immunotherapies have shown the potential to not just incrementally improve patient’s survival, but to significantly impact long-term survival and quality of life.
About Jounce Therapeutics
Jounce Therapeutics is dedicated to transforming the treatment of cancer. The company is discovering and developing first-in-class cancer immunotherapies designed to harness the immune system to seek out and attack cancerous cells and tumors. Jounce’s proprietary product engine is driving this transformational approach, which has the potential to drive significantly more durable responses to treatment, extending and improving patients’ quality of life. Founded by world leaders in immunobiology, cancer biology and clinical and translational medicine, Jounce Therapeutics was launched in 2013 with funding from leading life sciences investor, Third Rock Ventures. For more information, please visit www.jouncetx.com.
About Third Rock Ventures
Third Rock Ventures is a venture capital firm founded in 2007 with the mission to launch transformative life sciences companies. With more than $800 million and two funds under management, the firm is focused on working with passionate entrepreneurs to build exceptional companies working in areas of disruptive science that will make a difference in the lives of patients. The firm has assembled a team with deep expertise and a proven track record of building respected and successful life sciences companies. With decades of complementary, cross-functional operational and leadership experience, the Third Rock team actively engages with its portfolio companies to provide hands-on strategy and experience to successfully launch companies with the best vision, science, operations, people and culture. With offices in Boston, MA and San Francisco, CA, Third Rock is well positioned geographically to closely collaborate with its portfolio companies to achieve their goals.