AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical company, and Turnstone Biologics, a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company, announced a research, option and license agreement whereby AbbVie obtained an exclusive option to license up to three of Turnstone’s next-generation oncolytic viral immunotherapies.
Oncolytic viruses take advantage of defective pathways in tumors to selectively replicate in and destroy cancer cells, while cancer vaccines create killer (CD8+) T cell immune responses against tumor antigens. Taking an innovative approach, Turnstone Biologics engineered its Maraba oncolytic viral immunotherapy to function as both a selective tumor-destroying oncolytic virus and an immune-stimulating T cell vaccine. Leaving healthy cells unaffected, the Maraba platform directly attacks cancer cells and changes the tumor microenvironment to make the cancer susceptible to the targeted vaccine-induced immune response. The result is a powerful therapy that harnesses the individual’s own immune system to attack and kill tumors locally and at metastatic sites throughout the body, generating durable memory and preventing recurrence.
“Turnstone Biologics is the first company to clinically develop a combined oncolytic virus and cancer vaccine, and we are very impressed by their work to-date. This unique approach to cancer treatment complements our expanding portfolio of novel therapies in development,” said Tom Hudson, M.D., vice president, oncology discovery and early development, AbbVie.
Under the terms of the agreement, AbbVie has an option to obtain all global development and commercialization rights to Turnstone Biologics’ Ad-MG1-MAGEA3 therapy, which is in two Phase 1/2 clinical trials for multiple solid tumor indications both alone and in combination with an approved anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor, as well as up to two research-stage candidates to be developed by Turnstone as part of the collaboration. Each of the three therapies leverages Turnstone’s first-in-class platform based on an engineered Maraba virus. In the event AbbVie exercises one or more of its options, AbbVie expects to pursue this immunotherapeutic technology across several types of solid tumors.