What happened

Investors were pleased with biotech Jounce Therapeutics (JNCE) on Tuesday. So much so, that at one point they traded the stock nearly 21% higher on the day; ultimately it cooled down, but still closed the day 8% higher.

So what

The FDA cleared Jounce's Investigational New Drug (IND) application for its pipeline cancer immunotherapy JTX-1811, one of the four pipeline drugs currently being developed by the company.

This, in turn, is triggering a $25 million milestone payment from Gilead Sciences (GILD -1.21%), which holds the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize JTX-1811.

Cancer attacking an organism.

Image source: Getty Images.

The biotech said this is the fourth antibody it has managed to develop with its own resources inside a relatively narrow span of five years. CEO Richard Murray said, "The clearance of the JTX-1811 IND marks an important and validating milestone for Jounce in our approach to cancer immunotherapy treatment."

"We have now been able to bring multiple novel and diversified immunotherapy development candidates into clinical development, further enhancing our opportunity to bring benefit to cancer patients who have few options," he added.

Now what

The milestone payment from Gilead isn't the first for Jounce and its JTX-1811 program, and if all goes well it won't be the last. Gilead is on the hook for up to an additional $660 million in milestone payments that cover clinical, regulatory, and commercial events. All investor eyes will be on the clinical progress of this promising pipeline drug.