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Turnstone Biologics Unveils Novel Vaccinia Oncolytic Viral Immunotherapy Platform

Turnstone Biologics, a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company leading the next generation of oncolytic viral therapies, presented pre-clinical data today supporting the development of a new Vaccinia therapeutic platform at the American Association for Cancer Research Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy Meeting in Miami. This platform was developed by Dr. John Bell and his colleagues at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, and engineered to be potent, highly selective and immune-stimulatory. Furthermore, the versatility of the platform enables additional therapeutic agents to be encoded in the virus and produced at tumor sites. This single platform virus has the potential to create a portfolio of diverse products. Turnstone has exclusively licensed this technology.

This proprietary Vaccinia virus can be delivered systemically and is designed to target and kill cancer cells throughout the body, modulate the tumor microenvironment and stimulate both innate and adaptive immune responses. The virus also contains a very large transgene capacity, allowing for the insertion of multiple therapeutic agents. These agents will be produced selectively at tumor sites as the virus replicates only in the tumor cells, effectively enabling a local combination therapy from a single therapeutic promoting cancer cell killing. Turnstone is conducting IND-enabling studies on TBio-6517, its lead product candidate from this platform, consisting of the Vaccinia virus expressing three potent immune modulators, and anticipates initiating clinical studies in 2019.

“The decades-long search for immunotherapies and combinations that are safe and effective for a range of cancers has proven challenging,” said Dr. Bell. “While previous Vaccinia therapies have shown promise, we believe that we have selected and designed significant improvements into this platform, potentially allowing us to safely and effectively combine multiple modes of action into a single therapy.”

“This is an exciting time for Turnstone as we unveil another novel viral immunotherapy platform technology in our continued pursuit to develop transformative technologies that advance the treatment of cancer,” said Mike Burgess, MBChB, Ph.D., President, Research and Development at Turnstone Biologics. “We are rapidly advancing our lead candidate from this proprietary platform, TBio-6517, to the clinic with the goal of achieving effective and durable outcomes for a greater number of cancer patients.”

The oral presentation entitled “Utilizing Novel Oncolytic Vaccinia Virus for Selective Expression of Immunotherapeutic Proteins in Metastatic Tumors” includes key proof-of-concept data:

  • Cancer Cell Selectivity: The Turnstone Vaccinia virus was shown to rapidly kill more than 80% of cancer cells across multiple cell lines while sparing normal cells, exhibiting high tumor specificity in mouse models.
  • Potent Oncolytic Activity: The Turnstone Vaccinia virus replicated in human lung, sarcoma, melanoma, ovarian, gastic and thymic tumor explants, and showed efficacy with improved safety in the HT29 colon cancer tumor model.
  • Transgene Expression: TBio-6517 demonstrated selective expression of its three encoded immunomodulators at the sites of tumors in preclinical models, with no evidence for exposure in the peripheral blood.

About Turnstone Biologics

Turnstone Biologics is a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company driving the next-generation of viral immunotherapy by engineering highly flexible platforms to drive novel biology and enhance therapeutic benefits to cancer patients. The Company's multi-platform approach includes MG1 Maraba and a novel Vaccinia virus. MG1 Maraba is the first to combine the tumor-killing effects of an oncolytic virus with a tumor-targeted T-cell vaccine to harness an individual's own immune system to attack the tumor, with the goal of preventing recurrence and delivering a cure. With these two proprietary therapeutic platforms, Turnstone is advancing a robust pipeline of clinical and preclinical programs, with additional product candidates expected to enter the clinic by 2019. In 2017, Turnstone executed a strategic partnership with AbbVie on selected MG1 Maraba programs. Additionally, Turnstone has a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement with the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology to develop new, neoantigen-based cancer immunotherapies. For more information, please visit

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Last Updated: 30-Nov-2018