TILT and MSD working on immunotherapy trial for non-small cell lung cancer

non-small cell lung cancer NSCLC

TILT Biotherapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing cancer immunotherapies, has signed a second clinical trial collaboration and supply agreement with MSD, a tradename of Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, NJ, USA, for a new clinical trial evaluating TILT-123, its oncolytic adenovirus armed with two human cytokines, in combination with KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), MSD’s anti-PD-1 therapy. 

The phase I, open label, dose escalation trial will include 12 to 24 patients with immune checkpoint inhibitor refractory non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This latest trial builds on the company’s emerging data on the use of its oncolytic immunotherapy candidate TILT-123 currently in trials for several other indications where promising results of intravenous usability has motivated the expansion of the portfolio of trials.

TILT Biotherapeutics’ CEO, Akseli Hemminki, said: “We already have clinical trials running in Europe and the USA in several cancer types, including ovarian cancer, head and neck cancer, and melanoma. We are planning several more, one of which is this new collaboration in NSCLC with our collaborator MSD. Overall, our armed oncolytic viruses are showing potential in the clinic to increase the anti-tumor benefits of checkpoint inhibitors for a range of cancers where there is a pressing need for better therapies.”

The heart of TILT’s innovative approach revolves around the use of armed oncolytic adenoviruses, using cytokines and other molecules to boost the patient’s T-cell immune response to better enable it to find and destroy cancer cells.

About TILT Biotherapeutics

TILT Biotherapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing cancer therapeutics based on its proprietary oncolytic adenoviruses armed with molecules including cytokines that can stimulate, or suppress, T cells. The company’s TILT technology, which can be delivered locally and systemically, modifies the tumor microenvironment, and eliminates its ability to suppress immune responses to cancer, thereby enhancing T-cell therapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy, and CAR T therapies.

TILT’s lead asset, TILT-123, is a 5/3 chimeric serotype adenovirus armed with two human cytokines: TNF alpha and IL-2. TILT-123 has demonstrated a 100% response rate in pre-clinical cancer models in vivo, and it is currently in phase 1 clinical trials.


TILT Biotherapeutics is working with the Merck KGaA and Pfizer Alliance, who are collaborating to investigate TILT-123’s therapeutic effect in combination with the PD-L1 inhibitor, Avelumab (Bavencio), in head and neck cancer. The company also has a collaboration with MSD investigating TILT-123 in combination with pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA) in ovarian cancer. In 2019, TILT established an additional partnership with Biotheus, a Chinese company, for the development and commercialization of TILT-123 in Greater China.

Based in Helsinki, Finland, the company was established in 2013 as a spin-out from the University of Helsinki. 

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