A team of Ottawa researchers is getting ready to launch a new series of clinical trials following a significant investment from the private sector.

On Wednesday, Turnstone Biologics Inc. announced it had received a $41.4 million dollar investment from venture capital firms in the United States. The start-up was launched last year by a team of researchers after about 15 years of research into viral therapy for cancer patients. 

Dr. John Bell has been leading the research team out of the Ottawa Hospital. He said the investment comes at a critical time for his team.

“This investment allows us to move things forward but it really started with donations from people in Ottawa and across the country who have donated to our research over the years,” he said. 

The researchers said the investment will be used to launch several clinical trials, including one into the effectiveness of their virus therapy on prostate cancer and another on cancers caused by HPV. With much of the groundwork already done, the researchers are hoping to launch the next clinical trial by the end of the year. 

“In the clinical we need to understand which ways it will work best and which way will mean patients will benefit most from this new technology and this investment gives us enough shots on goal to figure that out,” said Dr. Dave Stojdl, a researcher based out of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. 

The news comes several months after the team launched its first clinical trial using their novel oncolytic viral immunotherapies for cancer. Roughly 79 patients across the country were involved in that trial, with dozens more expected to take part in the upcoming trials. 

“It is an important investment because it will allow us to take our ideas from the lab and into the clinic, where you really have to test things in people and in cancer patients and that is a very expensive activity to undertake,” said Dr. Bell.