Seattle-based biotech juggernaut Juno Therapeutics delivered mixed results in its 2017 quarter one earnings report Thursday — the first financial report from the company since it announced it was pulling the plug on its most advanced drug candidate after several patients in its clinical trial died from side effects.
The company beat analysts’ expectations in its overall revenue, bringing in $19.3 million in the first quarter of 2017 compared to an expected $13.47 million. That’s also up significantly from the first quarter of 2016, when it brought in $9.8 million.
In the report, Juno — which is developing immunotherapy treatments for cancer — said its dramatic increase in revenue is largely due to its collaboration with biopharmaceutical company Celgene, which holds the rights to commercialize the treatments Juno develops.
But Juno missed analyst expectations when it came to its bottom line, losing $0.79 per share compared to an expected $0.71.
That high loss is likely because the company has been pouring resources into the development of treatments that are earlier in its pipeline than the failed drug was, a costly endeavor. Although those treatments have shown early promise, it will be several years before they make it through the clinical studies required for approval by the FDA.
In a statement in the report, Juno CEO Hans Bishop emphasized the company’s progress on JCAR017, an early but promising treatment, and promised more data on clinical trials of the drug at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in early June.
“We also continue to advance our pipeline more broadly with eleven product candidates now in human testing,” Bishop said. “With up to 20 ongoing trials by year end, we expect to gain additional insights that may lead to product candidates that can deliver long-term durable remissions for patients in need.”
Immunotherapy treatments like the ones Juno is developing genetically alter the body’s immune system to allow it to recognize and attack cancer. The treatments have worked near miracles in some patients with blood cancer, notably late-stage leukemia.
But there are still many questions to answer about the treatments, being researched at institutions around the country including Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which Juno spun out of in 2013.
The company is also planning an office in the San Francisco area, likely focused on research and development.