WuXi AppTec, Juno join hands on new China-based cancer immunotherapy venture

Shanghai-based WuXi AppTec has joined hands with Juno Therapeutics ($JUNO) in an equal joint venture to develop new cell-based cancer immunotherapies under a new company called JW Biotechnology Solutions.

Hans Bishop, president and CEO at Juno Therapeutics

Juno, based in Seattle, has already received investment from WuXi Healthcare Ventures as the venture unit armed with a fresh $290 million raised in December scours the U.S. for biotech investments, including funding this year for Twist Bioscience of San Francisco and Syros Pharmaceuticals in Massachusetts.

In the case of JW Biotechnology, Juno's immuno-oncology expertise will be joined with WuXi's R&D and manufacturing platform to develop new cell-based immunotherapies for patients with hematologic and solid organ cancers, according to a press release.

Unspecified terms could eventually see JW Biotechnology getting access to candidates from Juno's pipeline for development and commercialization in China.

Juno did receive an undisclosed upfront equity payment and is eligible for milestone payments and royalties on candidates that make it to the market, according to the release.

"JW Biotechnology's mission is to build China's leading cell therapy company," industry veteran James Li, a cofounder who has been appointed CEO, said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Juno said it aims to use results from a Phase II study of B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia candidate JCAR015 to seek a fast-track regulatory pathway as early as 2017.

For its part, WuXi has been expanding manufacturing and clinical research operations in China, including starting work in January on a $120 million biologics facility in Shanghai focused on drug discovery and manufacturing.

- here's the release