AbbVie obtains licence for Turnstone Biologics’ oncolytic viral immunotherapies


AbbVie has entered a research, option and licence agreement with clinical-stage immuno-oncology company Turnstone Biologics for oncolytic viral immunotherapies.

Under the deal, AbbVie has obtained an exclusive option to licence up to three of Turnstone's latest oncolytic viral immunotherapies.

Oncolytic viruses exploit defective pathways in tumours to selectively replicate in and destroy cancer cells, while cancer vaccines create killer (CD8+) T-cell immune responses against tumour antigens.

Turnstone Biologics has designed its Maraba oncolytic viral immunotherapy to function as both a selective tumour-destroying oncolytic virus and an immune-stimulating T-cell vaccine.

The Maraba platform directly combats cancer cells and changes the tumour microenvironment to make the cancer susceptible to the targeted vaccine-induced immune response while leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

"Turnstone Biologics has designed its Maraba oncolytic viral immunotherapy to function as both a selective tumour-destroying oncolytic virus and an immune-stimulating T-cell vaccine."

The therapy uses the patient’s own immune system to combat and destroy tumours locally and at metastatic sites throughout the patient’s body, thereby offering durable memory and preventing recurrence.

AbbVie Oncology Discovery and Early Development vice-president Dr Tom Hudson said: “The combination of our world-class expertise in oncology drug development partnered with Turnstone's innovative therapeutic platform has the potential to generate first-in-class immunotherapies that can attack tumours directly and improve patients' response to treatment.”

As part of the agreement, AbbVie has an option to obtain all global development and commercialisation rights to Turnstone’s Ad-MG1-MAGEA3 therapy, which is in two Phase 1/2 clinical trials for multiple solid tumour indications both alone and in combination with an approved anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor.

The company will also be able to obtain up to two research-stage candidates to be developed by Turnstone.