On Friday, Legend Biotech (NASDAQ:LEGN) became the latest biotechnology start-up to pull off a surprisingly successful initial public offering. The cell-based cancer therapy developer originally intended to raise around $350 million, but investors eager to invest in a corner of the economy relatively unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic piled in and pushed Legend's haul up to a stunning $424 million. 

Impressive responses 

Legend Biotech doesn't have any products to sell, yet, but it could launch a chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy called JNJ-4528 in partnership with Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and receive heaps of royalties and milestone payments in the process. Legend burst on the scene a few years ago with impressive clinical trial results in treating relapsed multiple myeloma patients with JNJ-4528, and the data keeps getting better.

Person in a suit pulling cash money with a magnet.

Image source: Getty Images.

Multiple myeloma patients who relapse more than once are notoriously difficult to treat, but all 29 patients treated with a single infusion of JNJ-4528 responded. At a median follow-up time of 11.5 months, 86% of patients were in complete remission.

Next steps

Johnson & Johnson has already injected $460 million into Legend in the form of upfront and milestone payments, and the small company remains eligible to receive up to $1.34 billion more from it down the road if JNJ-4528 passes a series of regulatory and commercial milestones. 

If the therapy is approved, the partners will share development and commercialization costs in all countries outside of China, and in China 70% of profits will go to Legend and the rest to Johnson & Johnson.

Aug. 1, 2020, Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said that all profits (not just those in China) would be split 70%/30% between Legend and Johnson & Johnson. The story has been updated.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.