Turnstone Biologics Inc. to Accelerate Clinical and Commercial Translation of Cancer Immunotherapies

FACIT partners with Ontario researchers to create new company.

TORONTO, ON (May 4, 2015) – The Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust (FACIT) and its partners are pleased to announce the formation of Turnstone Biologics Inc. (Turnstone), a biotechnology company focussed on developing treatments for cancer that harness the patient’s own immune system.

The company represents a unique collaboration between the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute, McMaster University, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the University of Ottawa and FACIT. Turnstone and its founding partners share a vision to accelerate clinical translation and commercialization of oncolytic vaccine immunotherapies for the treatment of cancers.

Turnstone’s technology platform, Marabex™, is an entirely novel approach that combines the benefits of oncolytic viral therapy with a tumour-targeted vaccine into a single treatment. Building upon the recent clinical validation of oncolytic viruses, preclinical studies using this new strategy have demonstrated unprecedented immune responses against tumours. As immunotherapy has emerged as one of the most exciting new approaches in the fight against cancer, the Marabex™ technology has an opportunity to expand the boundaries for new treatments and benefit a large group of patients. Turnstone combines breakthrough discoveries supported by OICR’s Ontario Regional BioTherapeutics Program (ORBiT) and multiple Canadian research granting organizations with intellectual property from the founding institutes. Drs. David Stojdl, Brian Lichty, and John Bell from CHEO, McMaster, and The Ottawa Hospital respectively, have leveraged their longstanding collaboration and combined efforts into a single therapeutic platform.

“Immunotherapies represent one of the most transformative and promising anticancer approaches, and the formation of Turnstone Biologics around the Maraba oncolytic vaccine reflects a significant contribution to the field,” said Jeff Courtney, Chief Commercial Officer for FACIT and interim CEO of Turnstone. “With all the benefits of a strong intravenously delivered oncolytic virus, the addition of a powerful anti-cancer vaccine has great potential to improve the potency of the treatment and enhance patient outcomes.”

Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation, said, “I am proud of Ontario’s reputation as a global leader in cancer research. We believe that our unique strength lies in our ability to facilitate collaboration. The creation of Turnstone Biologics is a great success story for our collaborative research ecosystem and commercialization initiatives. Their findings will lead to improved health of Ontarians and have great economic potential for our province.”

“Turnstone Biologics is the culmination of a long-term collaboration between the founding scientists, their institutions and many supporters of cancer research across our country,” said Dr. John Bell, Senior Scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, Professor at the University of Ottawa and ORBiT Program Leader. “OICR and FACIT played a critical role in translating our discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic with significant financial and in-kind support to the ORBiT Program. Turnstone Biologics is now well positioned to accelerate the development of this first oncolytic vaccine, bringing a new hope to patients and building on the recent progress in cancer immunotherapy.”

About Turnstone Biologics
Turnstone Biologics Inc. is a biotechnology company focussed on developing treatments for cancer that harness the patient’s own immune system. Turnstone’s lead cancer immunotherapy technology, Marabex™, is a first-in-class tumour-targeted oncolytic vaccine that combines potent tumour killing effects of the Maraba oncolytic virus with the benefits of a cancer vaccine. Turnstone is also developing additional oncolytic virus strategies and immunotherapy combination treatments. For more information, please visit www.turnstonebiologics.com or email info@turnstonebiologics.com.

FACIT is an independent business trust established by OICR 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.


Turnstone Biologics Inc.
David O’Neill Ph.D, Vice President, Business Development
| turnstonebiologics.com

Download FACIT NR_TBIO Formation 2015 0504_final.pdf (314.17 KB)


FACIT actively manages our diverse portfolio of Ontario oncology assets (including therapeutics, imaging, diagnostics, and technology platforms) that span all stages of commercialization, from proof-of-concept to clinical development.



With critical seed funding, FACIT makes it possible for Ontario’s best cancer research discoveries to compete globally and reach patients.