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28 April 2014

Juno tops up series A to $176m

The biotechnology company has closed the funding round it started in December 2013.

Author: Thierry Heles, reporter

Juno Therapeutics, which is developing novel immunotherapies for cancer, has closed its series A with $176m, having opened it with $120m this past December – already then one of the largest series A rounds ever.

The round was closed through expansions from founding investors, as well as an investment from Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment company of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Venrock, the venture capital firm originally established by the affluent Rockefeller family.

The initial funding of $120m came from venture firm Arch, a former spin-out from Chicago University (which remains a partner and an investor), and the Alaska Permanent Fund, a state-managed vehicle using 25% of the state's oil money to future-proof its economy (the oil industry is expected to generate a revenue of $6.4bn in 2014, down $500m from 2013).

Juno is a joint venture between the Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, the Seattle Children's Research Institute and the New York City-based Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre. The joint venture is aiming to reprogram T cells, a part of the body's natural defence mechanisms, and have them target cancerous cells to deliver precise immunological payload – in other words, use the patient's own immune system to destroy tumours.

Hans Bishop, CEO of Juno, said: "Juno's Series A round provides significant resources to support truly transformative science. Juno's approach to cancer immunotherapy brings together world-class clinical, business and regulatory skills necessary to make a game changing impact on cancer treatment.  We couldn't be more thankful for the enthusiasm and support Juno is generating."

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