Partners herald new cancer immunotherapy company

May 4, 2015

The Ottawa Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) and McMaster University congratulate its researchers on forming 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. John Bell (from The Ottawa Hospital and uOttawa), Dr. David Stojdl (from CHEO and uOttawa) and Dr. Brian Lichty (from McMaster University).

“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 Dr. Stojdl.

“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 Dr. Lichty. “I’m honoured to be part of this exciting collaboration.”

“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.”

Numerous 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, Angels of Hope and Hair Donation Ottawa.

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with its faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute includes more than 1,700 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease. Support our research. Give to the Tender Loving Research campaign.

About the CHEO Research Institute
The CHEO Research Institute coordinates the research activities of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and is affiliated with the University of Ottawa. Its three programs of research include molecular biomedicine, health information technology, and evidence to practice research. Key themes include cancer, diabetes, obesity, mental health, emergency medicine, musculoskeletal health, electronic health information and privacy, and genetics of rare disease. The CHEO Research Institute makes discoveries today for healthier kids tomorrow. For more information, visit

The University of Ottawa—A crossroads of cultures and ideas
The University of Ottawa is home to over 50,000 students, faculty and staff, who live, work and study in both French and English. Our campus is a crossroads of cultures and ideas, where bold minds come together to inspire game-changing ideas. We are one of Canada’s top 10 research universities—our professors and researchers explore new approaches to today’s challenges. One of a handful of Canadian universities ranked among the top 200 in the world, we attract exceptional thinkers and welcome diverse perspectives from across the globe.

About McMaster University
McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 160,000 alumni in 140 countries.

Media contacts
• David O’Neill, PhD, Vice-President, Business Development, Turnstone Biologics Inc.
• Lois Ross, Communications, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute; 613-737-8899 x 73687)
• Adrienne Vienneau, Communications, CHEO Research Institute; 613-737-7600 x 4144)
• Veronica McGuire, Communications, McMaster University; 905-525-9140 x 22169)