October 11, 2017

Ontario start-up makes major deal to develop cancer-fighting viruses

Partners congratulate Turnstone Biologics

Canadian academic institutions and research organizations are congratulating Turnstone Biologics on a new partnership with AbbVie to develop cancer-fighting viruses (also called oncolytic viral immunotherapies).

Turnstone was founded in Ottawa based on research led by Dr. John Bell (from The Ottawa Hospital and uOttawa), Dr. Brian Lichty (from McMaster University) and Dr. David Stojdl (from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and uOttawa). The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) and BioCanRx have also played a key role in advancing the technology.

Quick Facts and Links

  • Turnstone was recently recognized as one of the top 15 biotech start-ups in the world.
  • In 2016, Turnstone secured US$41 million in venture capital (VC) funding. This is believed to be the largest VC deal in Ottawa since 2013 and the second largest biotech VC deal in Canada in 2016.
  • As of October 2017, Turnstone had 25 employees in Ottawa, Hamilton and New York. It expects to approximately double its employees by the end of next year.
  • Turnstone’s most advanced product is called Ad-MG1-MAGEA3. It is produced in The Ottawa Hospital’s Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre and the McMaster Immunology Research Centre.
  • Top journal Science called cancer immunotherapy the “breakthrough of the year” in 2013.
  • Ad-MG1-MAGEA3 is currently being tested in clinical trials at several hospitals across Canada. People who are interested in participating in these trials can read these frequently asked questions.
  • While public funding is crucial for cancer research discoveries, private investment is almost always necessary to advance the development of new therapies, as this can cost more than US$2.5 billion.
  • Turnstone was co-founded by FACIT, The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research’s commercialization partner, which provided initial management, seed financing, intellectual property consolidation and hiring of initial employees including the CEO.
  • Numerous organizations have supported the research team, including the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, Angels of Hope, BioCanRx, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, CHEO Foundation, Hair Donation Ottawa, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and the Terry Fox Research Institute.

Continue reading – Ontario start-up makes major deal to develop cancer-fighting viruses

September 29, 2017

OICR 2016/17 Annual Report

OICR Annual Report 2016/17

We are pleased to share the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) Annual Report for 2016/17.

We are living in an era of unprecedented innovation in cancer research. Recent advances have helped us to better understand cancer and allowed for collaboration on a scale that was previously not possible. This work is happening now and it is happening right here in Ontario.

Continue reading – OICR 2016/17 Annual Report

April 26, 2017

Clinical trial opens for promising combination therapy

Rhabdovirus

The first patient has been treated in what has been named the Sandpiper Trial. The Phase I/II clinical trial will evaluate a therapy that combines a novel oncolytic viral immunotherapy agent called MG1-MAGEA3 with pembrolizumab, which is an approved checkpoint inhibitor. The Sandpiper Trial will study the use of this combination therapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer who are no longer responding to chemotherapy.

Continue reading – Clinical trial opens for promising combination therapy

November 2, 2016

FACIT start-up Turnstone Biologics closes USD $41M financing

OrbiMed, Versant-led round continues commercialization success for Turnstone’s cancer therapies

John Bell and contributorsTORONTO, Nov. 2, 2016 /CNW/ – Turnstone Biologics Inc. (“Turnstone”), an Ontario-based developer of novel oncolytic viral immunotherapies, announced the closing of a USD $41.4 million Series B financing led by OrbiMed Advisors LLC (“OrbiMed”) and Versant Ventures (“Versant”), which led Turnstone’s Series A round in October 2015. New investor F-Prime Capital Partners (“F-Prime”) and existing founding investor FACIT also participated. Proceeds from the financing will support an ongoing Phase I/II clinical trial in patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumours as well as accelerate and expand Turnstone’s pipeline, funding the development of three additional programs into the clinic. In connection with the financing Orbimed’s Rishi Gupta, JD and F-Prime’s Ben Auspitz will join Turnstone’s board of directors alongside Versant’s Brad Bolzon, PhD and Jerel Davis, PhD as well as FACIT’s Jeff Courtney.

Continue reading – FACIT start-up Turnstone Biologics closes USD $41M financing

October 5, 2016

From our Annual Report: Investing in the cure and the economy

OICR Researcher in the Lab

Ontario has some of the finest cancer researchers in the world who are developing new cancer therapies, diagnostic tools and other anti-cancer technologies. When these novel products make their way into clinical use they improve outcomes for cancer patients and reduce the cancer burden on society.

Continue reading – From our Annual Report: Investing in the cure and the economy

January 5, 2016

OICR funds world-first clinical trial using cancer-fighting viruses

Oncology Viruses - Image of a cell.

Drs. John Bell, David Stojdl and Brian Lichty have together been investigating viral therapies for over 15 years. On July 10 in Ottawa they announced that this work has now moved to the clinic, with the launch of a world-first clinical trial using their custom-made cancer-fighting viruses.

Dr. Bell is leader of OICR’s Immuno- and Bio-therapies Program (ORBiT), based at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Continue reading – OICR funds world-first clinical trial using cancer-fighting viruses

November 9, 2015

FACIT start-up company Turnstone Biologics secures $11.3 million in financing, boosts leadership

turnstoneTurnstone Biologics Inc., a FACIT-incubated company spun out of research conducted in OICR’s ORBiT Program, has secured $11.3 million in new financing. This investment in the company has allowed it to take another step forward in its development with the hiring of Dr. Sammy J. Farah as Chief Executive Officer and Dr. Brian D. Lichty as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Farah is a veteran vaccine executive with extensive technology and product development expertise. Lichty, a distinguished scientist, is a leader in the development of oncolytic viral therapies and one of Turnstone’s founding scientists. The financing round was led by Versant Ventures and more than $20 million in follow-on capital has been committed.

“We are very pleased to have concluded this financing with an experienced venture capital firm of Versant’s calibre, and to be able to enhance the Company’s leadership with compelling management,” said Jeff Courtney, Chief Commercial Officer of FACIT, which is Turnstone’s founding investor.

Continue reading – FACIT start-up company Turnstone Biologics secures $11.3 million in financing, boosts leadership

October 28, 2015

FACIT Startup Turnstone Biologics Closes $11M Financing, Secures Additional Capital Commitment, and Adds Strong Management

Versant Ventures-led investment accelerates development, broadens oncolytic viral immunotherapy potential
TORONTO, Oct. 28, 2015 /CNW/ – Turnstone Biologics Inc. (“Turnstone” or the “Company”), a FACIT-incubated startup, has completed its $11.3 million Series A financing round led by Versant Ventures (“Versant”) with follow-on capital committed in excess of $20.0 million. The financing enabled the Company to appoint Sammy J. Farah, PhD, MBA as Chief Executive Officer and Brian D. Lichty, PhD as Chief Technology Officer. Turnstone develops novel oncolytic viral immunotherapies that both attack tumour cells in a targeted manner and enable the patient’s own immune system to be harnessed to fight cancer. The Company previously announced an ongoing landmark Phase I/II clinical trial in patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumours. Proceeds from the financing will enable expansion of operations in Ontario and a broader clinical development strategy.

Bolstering Turnstone’s leadership team with talented and highly qualified management, Dr. Farah is an experienced vaccine executive, while as a founding scientist of the Company Dr. Lichty possesses leading expertise in oncolytic viral therapies. In conjunction with this investment, Versant Partner Jerel Davis, PhD and Managing Director Brad Bolzon, PhD will join the Company’s board of directors. Founding investor FACIT also participated in the round.

“I am delighted to join Turnstone’s dedicated team in helping to advance a transformative technology that will positively impact a broad range of cancer patients,” said Dr. Farah. “With an established leadership in oncolytic viral immunotherapy, and a high content clinical trial for the first product candidate already in progress, Turnstone is in an advantaged position to significantly influence the immuno-oncology landscape.”
Turnstone’s platform is a unique and first-in-class approach that combines the benefits of oncolytic viral therapy with a tumour-targeted vaccine, into a single intravenously-delivered treatment to stimulate and direct a patient’s immune response to tumours. The platform possesses many distinguishing qualities that previous oncolytic virus and vaccine products have lacked, including systemic administration, production of significant durable T-cell responses, and ease of manufacturing. Importantly, preclinical studies in mice and primates have demonstrated unprecedented immune responses against a range of tumours. In expanding the clinical strategy, the Company will advance development in multiple disease indications and in combination with other cancer immunotherapies.

The completed financing underscores the strength and quality of the developmental work completed to date, the opportunities associated with expanding the boundaries of immuno-oncology therapies, and the recent clinical validation of oncolytic viruses. The investment is also another important example building on the translational vision of FACIT to cultivate and promote growth in Ontario’s economy, support improvements in patient care and attract world-class investors to the province’s innovative oncology assets.

“We are very pleased to have concluded this financing with an experienced venture capital firm of Versant’s calibre, and to be able to enhance the Company’s leadership with compelling management,” said Jeff Courtney, Chief Commercial Officer of FACIT and Turnstone’s founding investor. “Versant’s commitment provides valuable development and commercialization resources given the depth of its extensive network and expertise. This investment enables an aggressive growth strategy to be pursued to fully exploit the commercial potential of the Company’s pipeline.”

About FACIT
FACIT is an independent business trust established by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research to undertake development and commercialization activities related to cancer research, products and drug discovery. For more information, please visit the website at facit.ca or email info@facit.ca.

About Turnstone Biologics
Turnstone Biologics Inc. is a biotechnology company focused on developing novel oncolytic viral immunotherapies for cancer. Turnstone’s therapeutic platform is a first-in-class tumour-targeted oncolytic vaccine that combines potent tumour-killing effects of oncolytic viruses with the benefits of a cancer vaccine that harnesses the patient’s own immune system to fight disease in a sustainable manner. The Company’s platform leverages the innovations and expertise of its renowned founding scientists, Drs. John Bell, Brian Lichty and David Stojdl. Turnstone is also developing additional oncolytic virus strategies and immunotherapy combination treatments. For more information, please visit www.turnstonebio.com or email info@turnstonebio.com.

For further information:
Jeff Courtney, Chief Commercial Officer, jeff.courtney@facit.ca