What happened

Juno Therapeutics (NASDAQ:JUNO), a clinical-stage oncology company, continued its unrelenting rally this year by tacking on another $5 billion to its market cap in November, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Juno's market capitalization has thus risen by a whopping $4.6 billion since the start of 2017.

The overarching catalyst behind Juno's surge higher has been the rapid clinical progress of its lead CAR-T therapy, JCAR017, as a potential treatment for relapsed or refractory aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). During the company's third-quarter conference call, the biotech's management noted that JCAR017 produced an exceptional overall response rate of 80% in a small, early stage trial. Even more critically, JCAR017's safety profile was also among the best ever reported for a CAR-T therapy.    

A human T-cell.

Image Source: Getty Images.

So what

Juno is attempting to overcome the first-mover advantage of both Gilead Sciences and Novartis by bringing a safer, and more potent, CAR-T therapy to market. Whether Juno can achieve this all-important goal remains to be seen, but JCAR017's early stage data are on the right track. 

Now what

Juno is pushing JCAR017 as hard as it can in an effort to catch up to Gilead and Novartis. As a result, the biotech is aiming to have JCAR017 approved for advanced NHL by as early as 2018. And if this rather aggressive timeline holds, Juno should be able to push even higher next year. As a leader in the adoptive cell therapy space, after all, this biotech would arguably be pursuing a commercial opportunity that dwarfs its current market cap of roughly $6.7 billion. So this red-hot biotech is arguably still worth checking out -- if not outright owning -- because of its longer-term value proposition.  

George Budwell has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool recommends Juno Therapeutics. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.