Akseli Hemminki, Founder & CEO
The number of cancer cases recorded globally has increased to 18.1 million with 9.6 million instances resulting in death in the year 2018 alone, according to a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). “Although the groundbreaking developments in oncology have propelled many successful treatments of diverse types of cancers, advanced solid tumours are still life-threatening, with limited options available for treating the patients,” says Akseli Hemminki, founder and CEO of TILT Biotherapeutics. On a brighter note, many immunotherapy treatments such as checkpoint inhibiting antibodies and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy have proven to treat a subset of patients efficiently in addition to more conventional cancer treatments. Hemminki explains that the rising challenge today is to offer these immunotherapy treatments to the 50-90 percent of patients who don’t receive long term benefits from the current embodiments in immunotherapy.
Combating this predicament since its inception in 2013, TILT Biotherapeutics is working on next-generation oncolytic viruses to provide an asset for pharma companies for completing their immune-oncology product portfolios and implementing checkpoint inhibitors or T-cell therapies for a broader patient demographic. The company’s proprietary oncolytic viruses enhance the T-cell therapy and checkpoint inhibiting antibodies in difficult to treat solid tumours, thereby significantly improving the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy.
Our product is specifically engineered for enhanced entry into cancer cells without harming healthy cells and for making T-cells kill cancer
TILT’s proprietary oncolytic adenoviruses replicate themselves in the cancer cells and produce particular T-cell stimulating cytokines. This modifies the tumour microenvironment and eliminates its ability to suppress immune responses, in turn, enabling T-cells to detect and destroy cancer cells effectively.
The company’s flagship product, TILT- 123, is an armed oncolytic adenovirus that replicates only in cancer cells and releases cytokines TNFα and IL-2 in the tumours. These cytokines play a crucial role in T-cell activation, recruitment, and propagation and even in generating memory response in the immune system. “Our product is specifically engineered for enhanced entry into cancer cells without harming healthy cells and for triggering an immune response from the T-cells in the body,” adds Hemminki. TILT-123 can be universally used in all solid tumours and can be administered by both intravenous and intratumoural routes, making it applicable for the treatment of a wide variety of cancers. The company’s prototypes have been demonstrated to be safe and capable of accessing distant tumours by the vascular route.
As a leading global company working to enhance tumour T-cell therapy and checkpoint inhibitors, TILT Biotherapeutics has exhibited a comprehensive curative potential with its lead product—100 per cent—in numerous preclinical studies in aggressive cancer models. Based on the results, the chimeric adenovirus utilised by the company stimulates the adaptive arm of the immune system and ultimately leads to T-cell activation. Besides, TILT-123 can convert ‘cold’ and immunologically excluded tumours into ‘hot’ tumours, increasing the response rate to checkpoint inhibition in metastatic tumours and boosting the immune system’s ability to eliminate potential tumour cells.
TILT Biotherapeutics is entering the ‘first-in-man’ Phase I clinical trials with TILT-123 in metastatic melanoma in patients who are also receiving tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) therapy, which is scheduled to be conducted in France and Denmark this year. In addition, TILT’s early pipeline includes clinical studies in solid tumours refractory to PD1/L1 blockage by utilising TILT-123 in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor, and a study with TILT-123 and a CAR-T product. Currently, the company focuses on establishing meaningful partnerships with leading pharma corporations and investors to expand its clinical development operations across Europe and the US.