Turnstone teams up with Moffitt to race TIL cell therapies into the clinic

Turnstone Biologics is charging ahead with its expansion into tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), striking a deal with the Moffitt Cancer Center to complement the capabilities it picked up in its takeover of Myst Therapeutics at the start of the year.

New York-based Turnstone initially made headlines for its work on oncolytic viruses. That modality is still part of the biotech’s plans, with the virus platform providing Turnstone’s most advanced asset, but is now joined by TIL cell therapies. Turnstone plans to take its lead TIL prospect, TIDAL-01, into the clinic early next year.

The Moffitt agreement will support the progress of TIDAL-01 and other TIL candidates. Moffitt will work on “the identification, enrichment and expansion of neoantigen reactive TILs in solid tumor indications, including melanoma, breast and colorectal cancers,” and on the production of therapies for use in Turnstone’s clinical trials. The collaboration will cover activities including the IND filing for TIDAL-01.

“With Moffitt’s world leading researchers and unique capabilities to support translational research, we believe this collaboration will be crucial in bringing our transformative TIL therapies to people with cancer,” Turnstone CEO Sammy Farah said in a statement. 

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Turnstone will provide Moffitt with financial support for R&D over the course of the multiyear collaboration. The money has secured Turnstone the support of an organization it sees as a leader in the development of cell-based therapies.

Having entered into the partnership, Turnstone is poised to show whether its TIL platform can live up to expectations. Turnstone is pitching the platform as a way to bring the benefits of TILs to more tumor types, notably by preserving broad antigen diversity and minimizing time to treatment.