Turnstone Biologics Inc., an Ottawa, Ontario, Canada-based developer of novel oncolytic viral immunotherapies, completed a $41.4m series B financing.
The round was led by new investor OrbiMed with participation from new investor F-Prime Capital Partners and existing investors FACIT and Versant Ventures. In conjunction with the financing, OrbiMed Partner Rishi Gupta, J.D. and F-Prime’s Ben Auspitz will join Turnstone’s board of directors.
The company intends to use the funds to progress its lead asset through the initial Phase I/II trial to establish safety, maximum tolerated dose and initial evidence of immunological activity in patients with advanced solid and metastatic tumors, as well as advance three additional clinical programs that will start this year and next.
Co-founded by Drs. John Bell, Brian Lichty and David Stojdl and led by CEO Sammy Farah, Ph.D., Turnstone leverages a platform targeting tumors using a two-pronged mechanism of action, by functioning both as a tumor-destroying oncolytic agent and as an immune-stimulating vaccine directed at specific cancer antigens. The result should be induction of a potent immune response and strong anti-tumor activity.
Its most advanced product is an oncolytic Maraba virus that is engineered to express melanoma-associated antigen A3 (MAGEA3). Completion of the Phase I/II monotherapy trial is expected in 2017. Later this year, the company plans to start a new Phase I/II trial with this product in combination with an approved checkpoint inhibitor in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Two additional programs, each with oncolytic Maraba viruses expressing different tumor antigens for various cancer indications, are expected to enter clinical trials by the end of next year. Turnstone is also advancing pipeline programs in the areas of neoantigen-based personalized cancer vaccines and new oncolytic virus development.