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Cancer Immunotherapy Biotech Issues $80M IPO

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(A. Kotok)

21 July 2023. A biotechnology company designing immunotherapies for solid tumor cancers with a patient’s white blood cells is raising $80 million in its initial public offering or IPO. Turnstone Biologics Corp., an eight year-old enterprise in San Diego, trades its shares on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol TSBX.

Turnstone Bio is a developer of solid tumor cancer treatments that it says makes up for shortcomings in conventional immunotherapies, notably for some patients with limited numbers of T-cell lymphocytes, white blood cells in the immune system, that recognize and attack tumors. The company says its technology screens and identifies a T-cell lymphocytes from a patient’s tumor that attack cancer cells after penetrating the tumor’s protective microenvironment.

Turnstone says it then isolates and expands the number of potent, targeted tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes or TILs in the lab, removing less effective T-cells to boost their potency, and re-infuses the cells back into the patient. An enhancement in that process, now in preclinical stages says the company, pre-treats tumors with engineered viruses that disrupt tumor cells and improve the collection of tumor-attacking T-cells. Following re-infusion of TILs, says Turnstone, engineered viruses reprogram the tumor microenvironment, and provide an easier target for TILs to attack cancer cells.

In early-stage clinical trials

In Oct. 2022, Turnstone Bio’s lead product code-named Tidal-1 received FDA clearance to begin early-stage clinical trials of TILs, testing the treatments in patients with breast and colorectal cancer, and uveal melanoma, a rare cancer affecting the dark pigment in eyes. A separate early-stage trial is underway with Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida in patients with cutaneous melanoma, the more common form of aggressive skin cancer, and melanoma occurring in other organs.

Turnstone Biologics was first formed in 2015, spun-off from cancer research labs at universities in Canada. As reported by Science & Enterprise in Dec. 2019, Turnstone Bio licensed its previous cancer immunotherapy technology to Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Japan. In Jan. 2021, the company acquired Myst Therapeutics and its TIL technology that now makes up Turnstone’s pipeline. According to Crunchbase, the company raised $132.7 million in four venture rounds since its founding.

For its IPO, Turnstone Bio issued some 6.7 million shares on the Nasdaq, priced at $12.00, but opening this morning at $11.40. At the closing bell today, the company’s shares were at $11.00, a decline of 8.3 percent from the IPO price.

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