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Wall St. Swoons Over Seattle's Juno Therapeutics With Biggest Biotech IPO In Years

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A Seattle biotechnology firm is making waves on Wall Street. Juno Therapeutics had a splashy initial public offering Friday, and shares climbed more than 45 percent in its first day of trading.

Juno is developing techniques to fight cancer using patients’ own immune cells. It spun off from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, with resources from Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

In the run-up to its initial public offering, Juno had already upped its initial share price more than once. Then in its first day of trading, shares climbed from $24 up to $35.

“It’s the largest biotech we’ve seen in over a decade,” said William Preston, a research analyst with Renaissance Capital, which specializes in analyzing IPOs.

Preston Said Juno may be just getting started — its initial results come from a handful of small trials in relatively rare cancers — but it has a lot in the pipeline.

“They're very early stage, but by the end of next year, they're going to have upwards of nine ongoing clinical trials,” said Preston.

The share price puts the company’s value at more than $3 billion. That is a gift to Fred Hutch, which holds a large chunk of shares now valued at nearly $150 million.

Preston said excitement about immunotherapy approaches to fighting cancer are driving investors’ interest is Juno. The company says it will use the money to test more drugs, build out its manufacturing facilities and hire more people.

The company will trade on the NASDAQ under the ticker name, JUNO.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.