McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster helps establish biotech company

Published: May 4, 2015
Brian Lichty
Brian Lichty, associate professor, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, will collaborate with other researchers to develop new treatments for cancer.

McMaster University, the Ottawa Hospital, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) have formed Turnstone Biologics Inc., a biotechnology company focused on developing new treatments for cancer that harness the patient's own immune system.

The company's creation was announced earlier today by the Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust (FACIT), an independent business trust established by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR).

Turnstone combines breakthrough discoveries on cancer-fighting (oncolytic) viruses and vaccines from three Ontario researchers who have worked together more than 15 years: Dr. Brian Lichty (McMaster University), Dr. John Bell (The Ottawa Hospital and uOttawa), and Dr. David Stojdl (CHEO and uOttawa).

"This is a great example of basic laboratory research leading to a potential new therapy that could have a huge impact on health and generate substantial economic activity," said Lichty. "I'm honoured to be part of this exciting collaboration."

"By combining oncolytic viruses and vaccines together, we hope to be able to generate powerful direct tumour destruction, as well as a long-lasting immune response to keep the tumour from coming back," said Stojdl.

"Community support has been and will continue to be crucial for our research," said Dr. Bell, who also leads OICR's Ontario Regional BioTherapeutics Program (ORBiT) and Canada's BioCanRx network. "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."

Turnstone and its founding partners share a vision to accelerate clinical translation and commercialization of oncolytic vaccine immunotherapies for the treatment of cancers.

Many organizations have supported the research that led to the formation of Turnstone Inc., including the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, the CHEO Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, the Terry Fox Research Institute, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, Angles of Hope and Hair Donation Ottawa.

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