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Turnstone Biologics: Highlighting how Health Research Makes Ontario Wealthier

Turnstone Biologics scientists

An Ontario biotech start-up, Turnstone Biologics Inc. (Turnstone), has secured $41.4 million in new private investments to continue advancing cancer immunotherapy.

Turnstone was founded in 2015 to advance the development of novel oncolytic viral immunotherapies for cancer. The company’s technology is based on research led by Dr. John Bell (from The Ottawa Hospital and uOttawa – pictured middle), Dr. Brian Lichty (from McMaster University – pictured right) and Dr. David Stojdl (from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario [CHEO] and uOttawa – pictured left).

The company’s series B financing is led by new investor OrbiMed, the largest investment firm dedicated to the healthcare sector globally, with participation from new investor F-Prime Capital Partners – both private investors from outside of Ontario.

Turnstone’s financing success highlights the capacity of Ontario’s health research enterprise to draw significant investment into our province, helping to drive Ontario’s knowledge and innovation economy by creating new jobs and bringing new products to market. Turnstone continues to receive support from existing investors FACIT and Versant Ventures, which led the company’s series A financing.

Turnstone’s most advanced product is an oncolytic Maraba virus that is engineered to express melanoma-associated antigen A3 (MAGEA3). This is currently being tested in a clinical trial led by The Ottawa Hospital, sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, and funded by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Full results are expected to be released in 2017. Read more about it in this CAHO Catalyst story.

“This financing is incredible validation that we’re on the right track. We all want to be part of a scientific narrative that changes lives, and I believe that our immunotherapy approach is it.” – David Stojdl, senior scientists from CHEO and associate professor at the University of Ottawa.

“We have had tremendous success with our technology so far, but this financial support as a commercial venture is essential in enhancing our ability to bring it to the bedside. We know there is so much potential.” – Brian Lichty, associate professor at McMaster University

“Community support has been and will continue to be crucial for our research. However developing new therapies is extremely costly, so we also need to engage the private sector to take our research to the next level. I want to express my deep gratitude to all the people who have helped get us to this exciting place.” – John Bell, senior scientist, The Ottawa Hospital; professor, University of Ottawa

A Few Facts

  • This is believed to be the largest venture capital (VC) deal in Ottawa since 2013, and the second largest biotech VC deal in Canada in 2016 (data obtained from Invest Ottawa).
  • The top journal Science called cancer immunotherapy the “breakthrough of the year” in 2013.
  • 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.

Read more about Turnstone’s financing success:

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