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5 December 2013

Juno brings big guns against cancer

Juno Therapeutics – a joint venture between Seattle and New York research centres – receives a massive $120m in series A backing.

Author: Gregg Bayes-Brown, editor

Several leading cancer research centres have partnered to launch Juno Therapeutics, a cancer immunotherapy startup, which has received one of the largest series A rounds in history.

Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute partnered on the New York City-based Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre (MSKCC) to launch the venture.

Investors include venture firm and former spin-out of the University of Chicago ARCH Venture Partners (Chicago remains a partner and investor) and the Alaska Permanent Fund, a state-managed investment vehicle which uses 25% of Alaska’s oil money as a nest egg for future generations once oil runs out in the state (last year worth $42.1bn).

Juno’s technology hinges around T cells, one of the body’s natural defence mechanisms. The company intends to reprogram T Cells to recognise and target cancer cells to deliver precise immunological payload, essentially turning a patient’s own immune system into a powerful anti-tumour weapon.

Hans Bishop, Juno chief executive, said: “Juno brings together renowned scientists and exceptional investment partners to launch and quickly scale an enterprise that will deliver cutting-edge cancer immunotherapy. It is a completely unique opportunity that holds the potential to truly save lives while transforming how we treat cancer.”

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