Third Rock startup Jounce taking three-pronged approach to cancer immunotherapy
Third Rock Ventures' newest startup, Jounce Therapeutics Inc., plans to use its $47 million series A round to take on multiple protein-based methods of cancer immunotherapy.
The newco will focus initially on three approaches: inhibitors of immune checkpoints, like Yervoy ipilimumab from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY), and regulators of immune system co-stimulatory molecules and the tumor microenvironment.
The pipeline will include antibodies and antibody-related fusion proteins. Jounce will not initially develop cancer vaccines.
Third Rock Partner and Jounce interim CEO Cary Pfeffer said the company has begun making antibodies for "several programs." The targets and indications are not disclosed, but he noted recent data suggest some cancers may be more vulnerable to immunotherapy, such as melanoma and renal cell carcinoma (RCC), as well as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
"This is not a company focused on a single molecule or target. Every one of our founders has agreed this is the way to go," said Pfeffer.
He said the