TILT Biotherapeutics Awarded USD 2M Grant from US Department of Defense for Ovarian Cancer Immunotherapy Research


Project Grant for Development of Company’s Lead Clinical Program

HELSINKI, Finland, Feb. 14, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — TILT Biotherapeutics (TILT), a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing cancer immunotherapies, announces it has been selected by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), America’s largest government agency, to receive a USD 2M grant for a three-year project on treatment for ovarian cancer using the company’s TILT-123 asset (1).

The aims of the DOD funded project are to assess safety, signs of efficacy of TILT-123 in combination with pembrolizumab in platinum-resistant/refractory ovarian cancer patients and evaluate immune response, virus persistence and biological effects in tumors (2). Ovarian cancer is a fatal disease with a pressing need for better therapies. There are no oncolytic viruses or check point inhibitors currently approved for use in that indication.


TILT Biotherapeutics’ founder and CEO, Akseli Hemminki, a cancer clinician who has personally treated hundreds of cancer patients with oncolytic viruses, said, “We’re delighted to have been selected to receive our first U.S. grant. Working closely with the Mayo Clinic, it will support our efforts to unleash the full potential of oncolytic adenoviruses in treating ovarian cancer. We designed TILT-123 to improve the response rates in those many patients that are not responsive to current treatments. Our international clinical trials are progressing well through Phase I, and this significant grant is another key step in progressing these new therapies to reach patients in this high unmet medical need.”

TILT-123, also known as Igrelimogene litadenorepvec, is a chimeric serotype adenovirus armed with two human cytokines that boost the patient’s systemic immune response to better enable it to find and destroy cancer cells. It treats cancer by working synergistically with immune checkpoint inhibitors in solid tumors and can be delivered intravenously or intratumorally. The company is advancing its pipeline of programs across several cancer indications as a monotherapy and in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors.


(1) Project full title: “Unleashing the Full Potential of Checkpoint Inhibitor Antibodies With T-Cell-Stimulating Oncolytic Adenoviruses for Treatment of Ovarian Cancer” (HT94252310988)*

(2) https://clinicaltrials.gov/study/NCT05271318?term=TILT-123&rank=5

*The work was supported by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs endorsed by the Department of Defense, in the amount of $2,098,194.00, through the Ovarian Cancer Research Program under Award No. HT9425-23-1-0988. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs or the Department of Defense.

Notes to Editors

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 activate T cells and destroy cancer cells. 

The company’s patented TILT® technology can be delivered intravenously, locoregionally, or intratumorally. It modifies the tumor microenvironment and has a broader systemic effect. By making cold tumors hot, it eliminates cancer’s ability to evade immune responses, 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 also known as Igrelimogene litadenorepvec, is a 5/3 chimeric serotype adenovirus armed with two human cytokines: TNF alpha and IL-2. About fifty patients have been treated in four international trials sponsored by the company with promising initial efficacy responses observed in some of the patients.

The company’s pioneering approach has been recognized by industry leaders. It has two collaborations with MSD, a tradename of Merck & Co., Inc., investigating TILT-123 in combination with pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA®) in ovarian cancer (NCT05271318) and in refractory non-small cell lung cancer (NCT06125197).  The company is also collaborating with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and investigating TILT-123 in combination with avelumab.

Based in Helsinki, Finland, and with an office in Boston, the company was established over a decade ago as a spin-out from the University of Helsinki. It has funding from Lifeline Ventures, Finnish Industry Investment (TESI), angel investors, Business Finland, the European Innovation Council, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Media contacts

TILT Biotherapeutics

COO Aino Kalervo
[email protected]

Scius Communications

Katja Stout
[email protected]

Daniel Gooch
[email protected]

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