Jounce's Immunotherapy Recruiting Coup
This article was originally published in Start Up
Cancer immunotherapy start-up Jounce Therapeutics scored a major recruiting coup in naming former Merck SVP Richard Murray as its new CEO. At Merck, Murray was integrally involved in advancing Merck's anti-PD-1 program and in ushering pembrolizumab from the lab through to the acceptance of its Biologics License Application filing in just over three years.
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A deal with Celgene Corp. worth $261m up front will save Jounce Therapeutics Inc. from having to wade into the treacherous market for initial public offerings in order to advance and accelerate its immuno-oncology research and development programs.
Pfizer and Merck are the latest to study a new combination in the field of immuno-oncology, but PD-1 frontrunners including Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche are already making headway testing multiple drug combinations in pursuit of the most effective and safest way to treat cancer.
Company moves fast to test pembrolizumab in head and neck cancer, among other new frontier tumor types. The firm has reorganized its oncology business to prepare for launch in melanoma, which will be a critical test of the company’s ambitions to become a cancer powerhouse.