Takeda puts $120M in near-term cash on the table to complete a new oncology platform deal
Takeda is spending big to add a new piece to their oncology R&D puzzle.
This morning the global pharma company picked up an alliance with Turnstone Biologics, which has been building a new viral immunotherapy platform to complement its work on oncolytics, partnered with AbbVie for the past 2 years.
Dubbed the vaccinia virus platform out of a lab in Ottawa, R&D chief Mike Burgess describes it as a “highly selective virus as a consequence of engineering, exquisitely selective for cancer cells in contrast to normal cells.” And it can be used to deliver a payload of transgenes for Flt3 ligand, anti-CTLA-4 antibody, and IL-12 cytokine that replicate in cells.
Takeda is offering up a smorgasbord of cash to close the deal, with $120 million flowing to Turnstone for the upfront, near-term milestones and an upcoming equity investment — which goes a long way to funding its next stage of development. There’s also $900 million more in longer-range milestones on the table.
Turnstone has been low key for the last few years, since AbbVie stepped up with an option deal on their oncolytics work, part of a wave of development work aimed at going Amgen’s Imlygic one better. Turnstone CEO Sammy Farah tells me the pact is still in place — something AbbVie confirmed for me as well — but has no interest in getting into the details of what’s been going on there.
But he’s a lot more voluble about the vaccinia platform.
Drawn from the lab of John Bell and his colleagues at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, Turnstone turned up at AACR a little more than a year ago to offer preclinical mouse data to back up the potential in using it to fight cancer.
“The reason why it’s so exciting, it offers a multi-pronged attack on cancer,” says the CEO. Single modalities don’t cut it anymore, but a combination combined with the therapeutic properties of theirs itself can be cutting edge in new therapies.