News regarding Oslo Cancer Cluster

Ultimovacs carries out NOK 45 million share issue with Canica AS and Sundt AS as the main investors

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Ultimovacs AS has carried out a successful NOK 45 million share issue with DNB Markets and Arctic Securities as financial advisors. The issue was fully subscribed by new shareholders. The two biggest new shareholders are Canica AS and Sundt AS.

 

The funds raised through the share issue will be used to implement and further develop the company’s programme to document the effect of its first product; the therapeutic cancer vaccine UV1. During the next two years, the company will complete and finish two clinical trials to show how UV1 activates the immune system.

In addition, Ultimovacs began a third trial in January 2015 to explore efficacy and safety of UV1 is in combination with another drug that also manipulates the immune system into attacking cancer cells. The new funds will also cover the costs of this trial and allow the company to establish and document a commercial-scale production process for UV1.

CEO Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen comments: ‘This share issue enables the company to maintain its strong professional focus as it continues its work on documenting efficacy and safety of UV1 is in cancer treatment. We are very pleased to have some of the strongest investment communities in Norway on our team. The new owners recognise the company’s ambitions to improve the current cancer treatment while developing a business enterprise with great potential.’

Canica looks forward to further developing Ultimovacs in cooperation with an expert community and a sound investor base. ‘We believe that the company is well placed to succeed with its innovative immunotherapy,’ says Nils Selte, CEO of Canica.

Leiv Askvig, CEO of Sundt, comments: ‘With its universal cancer vaccine, Ultimovacs has great potential, both when it comes to developing new cancer treatments to benefit patients and creating good value for shareholders.’

Ultimovacs is a biotechnology company that develops a therapeutic universal cancer vaccine. Such cancer treatment is not linked to a specific type of cancer, but has the potential to trigger a general immunologic reaction against cancer cells, regardless of the type of cancer. Stimulating the immune system to attack cancer cells is a revolutionary form of cancer treatment and a treatment principle in rapid international development. Several new treatments based on this principle have already been introduced, and the technology has the potential to greatly improve the treatment options available for cancer. The Norwegian academic communities and companies that belong to Oslo Cancer Cluster are world-leading in this field. Ultimovacs is one such company.

About Ultimovacs:

Ultimovacs AS was established by Inven2 in 2011. The company’s goal is to develop technology from the Norwegian Radium Hospital for use in cancer treatment and to make the treatment available to patients. The technology is based on the possibility of controlling the immune system to make it recognise and kill cancer cells.

Ultimovacs is carrying out three clinical trials intended to document that the company’s main product, UV1, can produce a controlled immune response and is safe to use, either alone or in combination with other drugs that also activate the immune system to attack cancer cells.

The biggest shareholders in the company are Gjelsten Holding AS, Inven2, Langøya Invest AS, Canica AS, Sundt AS and the Norwegian Radium Hospital Research Foundation. From July 2015, the company will be located in Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park at Montebello.

 

European Biotechnology Book 2015

HORN International is developing the 2nd edition of ‘European Biotechnology.’  The 2014 edition is available here.

The digital & hardback book will profile several countries, including main bio agencies and organizations, regional structures, IP, pricing & regulatory environments, MAHs, and bio-economy.  Each country will present 20-25 R&D-based companies in editorial format.

The books are given for free to cooperating European and national agencies & organizations, each country’s main bioregions, clusters, academic & research institutes, science parks, and embassies.  The publication will launch in November at BIO-Europe in Munich, as well as BIO-Europe Spring 2016, BIO International, and many others.  Based on demand, first print will increase from 20.000 to 30.000 copies.

Members of the Oslo Cancer Cluster are invited to participate with a discounted offer, and should email Chelsea Ranger, Life Science Project Manager, at chelsea@hornonline.com to reserve space.

 

References:

  • The digital book had over 44.000 viewers from 26 countries within two weeks of launching online, and held 18 of the Top 30 HORN-site trafficked sites in 2014.
  • 1500 books were distributed at the publications launch, BIO-Europe Frankfurt in November 2014
  • “ ‘European Biotechnology, A Medical Focus’ was for the Belgian life sciences community a piece of reference and high standard even before it was published. The collaboration with HORN Publishing was both constructive and inspiring and the response of the life sciences actors in Belgium to the opportunity to feature in this reference work was indeed overwhelming. It demonstrates the motivation of our actors but also the maturity of the Belgian cluster. The fact that we are anxious for the opportunity to be part of the next edition, is likely the best tribute to this wonderful initiative. The main challenge will be to find a picture to represent Belgium next time. But we will handle that with pleasure.”
    Henk Joos, Managing Director, FlandersBio

 

Photocure: Green light for phase 3 in the U.S

Photocure ASA, a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on photodynamic technologies in dermatology and cancer, announces the conclusion of the Phase 2 program, and FDA clearance to prepare Phase 3 protocol for the clinical development of Cevira, the innovative breakthrough for the treatment of precancerous lesions of the cervix.

The conclusion of a Phase 2 meeting with the FDA confirmed that the Phase 2 data supports the proposed Phase 3 program, and are sufficiently robust to continue the development of Cevira. Following a guidance meeting with FDA in December 2014, Photocure completed the re-analysis of the Phase 2b data as requested by the Agency. The re-analysis included a new panel read pathology assessment and applying new clinical success criteria in the end-point definition. The re-analysis demonstrated that Cevira provides improved treatment efficacy compared to placebo among patients with cervical high grade lesions (HSIL). Photocure discussed the results, including target population and statistical sample size, in the FDA meeting in early December.

Kjetil Hestdal, President and CEO of Photocure, said:  “With End of Phase 2 achieved for Cevira in the U.S., together with the support achieved through Scientific Advice in key European markets to progress to Phase 3 in women with HSIL (CIN2), Photocure has reached an important milestone in the development of Cevira.

Cevira has the potential to treat HPV induced cervical high grade disease and prevent the development of cervical cancer which affects more than 500 000 women annually. We will continue discussions with leading companies in women’s healthcare to secure a strategic partnership that will assist in the Phase 3 development and commercialization of Cevira.“

Following the positive outcome of the meeting with the FDA, Photocure plans to submit the proposed Phase 3 protocol for a detailed Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) to the FDA first half 2015.

www.photocure.com

Oslo Cancer Cluster`s start-ups highlighted in investor report

A recent analysis from the audit and advisory company EY is cautiously optimistic on behalf of startup companies in the Nordic Life Science industry – and points to possibilities within Oslo Cancer Cluster.

The analysis, which was commissioned by Norwegian Investinor and Swedish Industrifonden, points to four segments in the Nordic life science market that has the most mature startup companies, and thus are believed to be most attractive for investments: oncology (cancer treatment), inflammation treatment, niche products and imaging. From these segments, several startup companies have already appeared. They have also raised substantial capital.

Some Norwegian examples are Nordic Nanovector, BerGenBio and Targovax, which has raised a total of NOK 485 million in 2014 .These companies are all members of Oslo Cancer Cluster, developing cancer treatments using different technologies.

Excellent quality of research
The strength of the Nordic life science industry is the quality of the research performed, especially in some selected clusters, such as the Oslo Cancer Cluster. Scientific development is a key driver for innovation in the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry.

The biggest concern among life science industry players interviewed in the survey is however, the attention from investors, especially from professional investors with industry insights, which can handle the risks of investing in the earliest stages of company development.

─ The early phase of life science involves great risk, but can also give great returns, so investors should pay close attention to what is now happening in Oslo Cancer Cluster and corresponding clusters, says Ann- Tove Kongsnes, Investment Director of Investinor.

Investinor actively works to attract more foreign investors to Norwegian life science industry, and has also made ​​two investments together with Swedish Industrifonden in Oslo Cancer Cluster members Smartfish and Pharmalink.

 

 

 

 

Oslo Cancer Cluster events on World Cancer Day

February 4th is World Cancer Day. Oslo Cancer Cluster will pay tribute to this day by arranging a breakfast meeting at Litteraturhuset together with LMI. This breakfast meeting is the first of a series of three political breakfast meetings in 2015, addressing  the topic “Future cancer treatment – how to secure Norwegian cancer patients the best treatment in the future?”

Our first breakfast meeting on World Cancer Day, February 4th, address “clinical cancer studies”: Why is clinical cancer studies important to convey in Norway, what are the unique advantages for conducting studies in Norway and in what way are experimental cancer studies a vital part of access to the latest treatment available for cancer patients not responding to standard treatments.

The political breakfast meetings aim to contribute to ensure that Norwegian cancer patients receive a treatment that is on par with the best internationally, to ensure political involvement and come up with concrete proposals for improving the framework conditions for Norwegian cancer research- and treatment.

Target groups for the meetings are health politicians and authorities, members companies from Oslo Cancer Cluster and LMI, patients and everyone interested in the topics.

The meeting is open for the public and free of charge. Please register here.

 

Afternoon member meeting
On World Cancer Day we also arrange the first member meeting of 2015, addressing the topic og conjugated antibodies. Program will follow – but you may already register here. Please note that this is a meeting only for members of the Oslo Cancer Cluster.

 

 

BerGenBio Completes NOK90 Million Fundraising

Oslo Cancer Cluster member BerGenBio AS, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing innovative drugs for aggressive drug resistant cancers, announces that it has raised NOK90 million (c. $15 million) in a private placing from new and existing investors.

BerGenBio will use the proceeds from the financing to support the development of its pipeline of innovative cancer therapeutics, in particular an enlarged clinical development program for its lead drug candidate, BGB324, a first-in-class selective Axl kinase inhibitor, which is currently in Phase 1b clinical trials for patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

Richard Godfrey, Chief Executive Officer of BerGenBio, commented:

“I am delighted we have received continued funding support for the Company and our clinical development plans for BGB324. Our recent research findings have shown broader potential clinical application for BGB324, and we intend to evaluate these in additional Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials starting in 2015. In aggressive drug resistant cancers our on-going Phase 1b trial in AML is expected to report towards the end of 2015 and in non-small-cell-lung-cancer we will start enrolling patients very soon.”

Ann-Tove Kongsnes, Investor Director at Investinor, commented:

“We are very satisfied with the development of BerGenBio and its exciting pipeline of first-in-class cancer therapies. In the near future we see attractive opportunities for value uplift in the Company and are pleased to support the business.”

Arctic Securities AS acted as sole bookrunner for the private placement.

About BGB324
BGB324 is a first-in-class, highly selective small molecule inhibitor of the Axl receptor tyrosine kinase. It blocks the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is a key driver in drug-resistance and metastasis.

About BerGenBio AS
BerGenBio AS is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company. The Company is committed to developing innovative therapeutics that inhibit EMT, prevent the formation of cancer stem cells and disrupt the cellular mechanisms that drive acquired cancer drug resistance. The Company is founded on proprietary platform technology, CellSelect™, which uses information from RNAi screening studies to identify and validate novel drug targets and biomarkers. BGB324 is the first compound in BerGenBio’s pipeline to enter clinical trials in AML and soon NSCLC, with additional compounds and drug targets at different stages of preclinical development. www.bergenbio.com

Career Day at University of Oslo

Real Karriere is the meeting arena for industry and companies and the students within technolgy and natural sciences at the University of Oslo. February 12 Real Karriere invites companies to have a stand, set up speed-dates with students and/or present them selves. 

Please find more information here:

You may register your company here: https://nettskjema.uio.no/answer/60769.html

Questions regarding this event may be adressed to:
Kristina E. Sæterdal, e-mail: realkarriere@mn.uio.no, mbile: +47 95819674 web page: uio.no/realkarriere

 


Real Karriere ved Universitetet i Oslo er en kontaktarena for bedrifter og våre studenter innen realfag og teknologi.

Ved å delta på Real Karriere kan du profilere din bedrift gjennom:
● Stand
● Speed-intervjuer i egne lokaler med påmeldte studenter
● Bedriftspresentasjoner

Alt vil skje i Vilhelm Bjerkes’ hus.

Opplegg for dagen:
12.00 Åpning av standområdet. Servering av kaffe og kake
16.00 Mingling i studentkjelleren med matservering, underholdning og premieutdeling.

For å gjøre denne dagen mer attraktiv for begge parter ønsker vi at:
● Dere har informasjon om mulige sommerjobber og/eller faste jobber om dette er mulig
● Dere er tydelige på kompetansen dere søker
● Hold gjerne egen konkurranse på standen, der premien blir delt ut under minglingen

Vi vil fra vår side forberede studentene best mulig for denne dagen.

Meld på din bedrift via nettskjema: https://nettskjema.uio.no/answer/60769.html

Ved spørsmål, kontakt: Kristina E. Sæterdal, realkarriere@mn.uio.no, 95819674 Nettside: uio.no/realkarriere

Priser
Prisene (ekskl. moms) inkluderer profilering av bedriften i forkant av arrangementet og matservering.
– Stand, 2 meter bred: 6 000,-
– Stand, 3 meter bred: 10 000,-
– Speed-intervju: 3000,-
– Bedriftspresentasjon (20 min): 5000,-

Profilering: Som deltaker på Real Karriere vil din bedrift profileres på nettsider og i brosjyren som deles ut til studentene.

The investment in proton therapy for cancer

Written by Prof. Stein Kvaløy, senior physician and Head of Research at the Division of Cancer, Surgery and Transplantation, Oslo University Hospital and University of Oslo.
First featured in forskning.no


In 2012 there were just above 30,000 new cancer cases in Norway. The number of cases is increasing by 1-2 percent each year, so that more than 40,000 cases are expected in 2030.

More cancer survivors

Fortunately, treatment results are improving. During my time as a cancer specialist (from 1976) the healing improved significantly – from 40 percent survival to 70 percent for both men and women. There are several reasons for this improvement.

We can roughly divide cancer treatments into three methods; surgery, radiation therapy and medication. Nowadays various specialists jointly discuss the treatment program and the best use of the three modalities of treatment for each case. Often will all three methods be used in a well-planned combination to best suit the patient. This is referred to as a multi-disciplinary approach.

Radiotherapy is used both as treatment for cancer cure and for symptomatic relief. This is a local treatment with photon beams that have high enough energy to reach tumors located deep inside the body. This procedure resembles the similar idea of surgery, sterilization and removal of the tumor with minimal damage to the healthy tissue located around a tumor. Modern radiation machines allow optimization of the radiation dose against the tumor and thus reduce the dose for the healthy tissue. Damage of the healthy tissue cannot, however, be completely avoided and is the “price” one must pay to stay healthy. My impression is that most patients understand and accept this if they are informed about it.

Radiation can cause damage

As more patients are cured and we gather observations over a long time period (more than 20 years), we see that patients can develop long-term side effects and damage due to the treatment they received a long time ago. This may often be as far back in time that one no longer sees the connection to previously given treatment. Such an example is patients who received radiation therapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Some of these patients may among other things suffer of heart disease which results in significant distress and reduced quality of life. It is important to emphasize that this is not due to errors in medical treatment.

Proton treatment reduces side effects

Other types of radiation therapy that can reduce side effects do exist nowadays. The development of radiation devices that can provide particle irradiation with protons or ions has been tremendous in recent decades. It is like shooting at the tumor with small bullets. The particles can be more precisely directed at the tumor, and the biggest benefit of this is that we can reduce the dose to the healthy tissue.

This reduces short-term and long-term side effects, which for some patients implies avoiding a new disease after being cured of cancer. However, it should be mentioned that not all cancer patients will benefit from this type of radiation therapy compared with current treatment.

Where radiation center be placed?

A national team of specialists have worked with the question of whether we should get proton therapy to Norway. The group agreed on the idea and has estimated that 8-10 percent of cancer patients who should have radiotherapy should get it as proton therapy.

This would be applicable for approximately 12-1500 of cancer patients each year. International estimates are somewhat higher. Benefits will probably be greatest for children and adolescents who have a long life expectancy.

Why not just do it? The health benefits seem obvious. The Ministry of Health and Care Services gave a remarkably quick positive signal to the establishment of costly buildings and equipment.

It is now being examined how construction should be carried out.  All regional health authorities are included in these plans. The South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority has a group working on plans to add such a facility to Oslo University Hospital.

The main question has been localization: Should the unit be established in hospitals that already offer radiotherapy (such as Radium Hospital or Ullevål Hospital), or should we adapt a new center with proton facility into the plans for the new OUS – Campus in Oslo? There are drafts for different exciting localization possibilities at Rikshospitalet. This is exciting plans.
It is clear that we must consider carefully the appropriate location for such a large investment (about two billion NOK). It is important that the plans for OUS-Campus, do not delay the establishment of a proton facility in Oslo University Hospital, which at the earliest could be completed in 2020.

This has great significance for the individual patient.

 

Winners of Immuno-Oncology Call are: BerGenBio, Targovax and Ultimovacs

By deadline November 15, Oslo Cancer Cluster had received 9 applications for collaborative innovation projects addressing our Immuno-Oncology call on MNOK 1, 2.  From these,  three winners have been chosen, and those are: BerGen Bio, Targovax and Ultimovacs. Each company will receive MNOK 0,4 from Innovation Norway.

 

BergenBio will use the funding to prove that Axl kinase inhibition may provoke anti-tumour immune response
BerGenBio receives funding for the project Enhanced tumor immune activation by clinical Axl‐targeting agents, with partners from the University of Bergen, Oslo University Hospital and University of Texas. The goal of this project is to demonstrate that Axl receptor inhibition potentiates anti-­‐tumor immune responses against poorly immunogenic cancers and to develop improved clinical immunotherapeutic strategies based on Axl targeting.

– BerGenBio are very pleased to be one of the three companies to win an I-O innovation project. The award will allow the company to demonstrate that Axl kinase inhibition can play a key role in provoking anti-tumour immune response, and thus may be a valuable immunotherapy target. BerGenBio is a leader in the field of Axl kinase biology and the Company’s clinical candidate, BGB324, is the first selective Axl kinase inhibitor to be tested in the clinic, says Richard Godfrey, CEO BerGen Bio.
Targovax awarded an immuno-oncology innovation prize
The Immuno-Oncology prize from Oslo Cancer Cluster will contribute to the funding of Targovax´s development of new cancer vaccines, with focus on the new peptide vaccine TG03 for treatment of RAS mutated malignant melanoma.

– Targovax is proud to receive this prize and wants to thank Oslo Cancer Cluster for the grant.  This is a great acknowledgement and support of Targovax’s work to develop the new cancer vaccines in pipeline towards clinical testing, says Hanne Mette Kristensen, CEO Targovax.

 

Ultimovacs will use the funding to develop novel cancer therapy
Ultimovacs receives funding for the prjoect Re-targeting T-cells against cancer – development of T-cell receptors directed against telomerase, with partner Oslo University Hospital. The overall goal of the project is to develop novel cancer therapy by reprogramming immune cells to target the universal tumour antigen telomerase.

– Ultimovacs are very happy and proud to be one of the winners of this funding granted by Oslo Cancer Cluster and Innovation Norway. The funding gives us the opportunity to expand our technological platform. This project has the potential to combine vaccine technology and cell therapy in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer. The research is an example of the strength of collaboration between industry and academia, says Øyvind Arnesen, CEO Ultimovacs.

 

Strength within Immuno-Oncology in Norway proven
Jutta Heix, International Advisor in Oslo Cancer Cluster and project coordinator of the Norwegian Immuno-Oncology Consortium, is very pleased with this years call.

– We are very pleased about the significant interest and very positive feedback from our members for this funding opportunity. The number and quality of the applications and the breadth of the topics confirms the particular strength in the cancer immunotherapy area in Norway. Based on the feedback from last year’s winners we know that the funding despite the relatively small amount, truly makes a difference and helps to advance the immuno-oncology portfolio within the cluster. Therefore we continuously work to increase the funding available for our members, says Jutta Heix, International Advisor in Oslo Cancer Cluster.

 

 

Nordic Nanovector And Affibody Collaborate On Radio-Immunotherapies Program For Multiple Myeloma

Nordic Nanovector ASA and Affibody AB today announced that the companies have entered into a three-year collaborative research agreement to discover and develop new advanced radio-immunotherapies (RIT) for multiple myeloma.

Backed by a Eurostars grant, the project will combine Affibody’s proprietary platforms with Nordic Nanovector’s radioimmunotherapy technology. The project aims to provide documentation necessary to start GMP manufacturing of the Affibody®-based RIT and subsequently start clinical trials. The companies have also been awarded approximately €1m in total by Vinnova in Sweden and The Norwegian Research Council in Norway.

Upon a successful conclusion of the collaboration Nordic Nanovector will have the opportunity to license the global rights to the Affibody®-based RIT. The development of an Affibody®-based RIT treatment represents a distinct work stream to be carried out in parallel with Nordic Nanvector’s lead product candidate Betalutin™ for non-Hodgkin Lymphoma treatment.

Luigi Costa, Nordic Nanovector CEO commented, “The collaboration with Affibody will allow Nordic Nanovector to expand its product pipeline, while at the same time retaining full focus on the clinical development and commercialization of our lead product candidate, Betalutin™. This collaboration serves as an example of how the company intends to leverage its proprietary targeting technology to treat other hematological cancers in need of novel therapeutic approaches. “

David Bejker, Affibody CEO commented, ”We are delighted to enter into this agreement with Nordic Nanovector and see RIT’s as an area with great potential and a logical continuation of some of our research. The Eurostars platform offers an excellent way for two companies with complementary technologies to collaborate and bring novel therapeutics to market and for Affibody, this comes on top of a year of increased uptake for our platform.”

 

More information:

Affibody
Affibody is a Swedish biotech company focused on developing next generation biopharmaceuticals based on its unique proprietary technology platforms: Affibody® molecules and Albumod™. Affibody is developing a portfolio of innovative drug projects and, in addition, offers the half-life extension technology, Albumod™, for outlicensing.

Affibody has ongoing commercial relationships with several companies including Algeta, Amylin, Sobi, Daiichi-Sankyo, Daewoong, GE, and Thermo Fisher.

Affibody was founded in 1998 by researchers from the Royal Institute of Technology and the Karolinska Institute and is based in Stockholm, Sweden. Major shareholders in the Company include HealthCap and Investor AB. Further information can be found at: www.affibody.com.

 

Nordic Nanovector

Nordic Nanovector ASA is a privately held company established in 2009. The company is developing innovative radioimmunotherapeutics to treat non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) and other difficult to treat cancers. Nordic Nanovector intends to commercialise its product candidates through strategic alliances and partnerships with experienced oncology businesses and by establishing its own sales and marketing capabilities in selected markets. The company is based and has offices and laboratories in Oslo, Norway.

The company’s lead product candidate, Betalutin™, is a radioimmunotherapeutic that aims to prolong and improve the quality of life of people who suffer from NHL. Further information can be found at: www.nordicnanovector.com.

Oslo Cancer Cluster members will be featured in Nordic Life Science Database

Biotechgate welcomes the three Norwegian partners Innovation Norway, Oslo Cancer Cluster and Nansen Neuroscience Network. This partnership further completes the Nordic Life Sciences Database which allows users to search for companies in the Biotech, Pharma and Medtech area.

More than 170 Norwegian companies can currently be found in the Nordic Life Sciences Database (www.nordic-lifesciences.com). All profiles are updated continuously and the database will be further completed with new profiles over the next months. Due to the partnerships with Innovation Norway, Oslo Cancer Cluster and Nansen Neuroscience Network, the database can be used free of charge. It is also possible for companies to publish their profile at no cost.

Thanks to additional partners from Sweden and Denmark, also Swedish and Danish profiles can be found and viewed for free on the Nordic Life Sciences Database. The portal is part of Biotechgate, a global life science directory which provides information such as product pipelines, management contact details, financing information and much more of more than 30,000 companies in the Biotech, Pharma and Medtech space. Thanks to various search features the information is easily accessible.

“Being the primary government agency for industry development, it is a priority for Innovation Norway to promote our prosperous life science community. Norway has close to 200 companies depending on biotechnology in their daily business and a total of more than 400 companies when looking at life sciences at large. We are very pleased to enter into this collaboration with Biotechgate together with our most prominent biomedical clusters in oncology and neuroscience, respectively.”
Ole Jørgen Marvik, Sector Head, Health and Life Sciences, Innovation Norway

“Oslo Cancer Cluster is very pleased to have teamed up with Venture Valuation to profile our members through Biotechgate. We are reassured that this gives our SME-members a great exposure to the international VC and pharma milieu, which is important in our work to build a Norwegian Healthcare Industry.”
Ketil Widerberg, General Manager, Oslo Cancer Cluster

“Our companies work to address important and complex challenges. Success will require collaborations and partnerships, and we believe that Biotechgate can be a powerful tool to help build those. We look forward to offering this to our members.”
Leif Rune Skymoen, CEO of Nansen Neuroscience Network

“We are more than happy to close this gap in the Nordic Life Science Database. We are sure that having the Norwegian company profiles available on the database, will be a great contribution to all kind of actors active in the life sciences field – inside and outside of Norway and Scandinavia.”
Jost Renggli, COO, Venture Valuation / Biotechgate

 

Registration for Cancer Crosslinks 2015 is open

Cancer Crosslinks 2015 will be held January 15th at The Institute for Cancer Research at the Norwegian Radium Hospital. The program features several renowned international speakers as well as Norwegian experts. Main theme is “Novel insights into tumor heterogeneity and clonal evolution: how to design treatment and follow-up strategies”.

 

  • Program and registration form (close to the bottom of the page)
    Since the auditorium is usually fully booked for this event we limit the number of participants per company  to 2 people in the main auditorium. However,additional participants may follow the program from the seminar rooms and participate at lunch and networking parts. The meeting will also be streamed.

 

Exciting program bridging latest research and clinican implementation
In the first part of the program, international and Norwegian clinicians and researchers will discuss the clinical impact of approaches as single cell sequencing and liquid biopsies across different tumor types. We look forward to welcoming our keynote speakers Professor Nicholas Navin from MD Anderson and Professor Klaus Pantel from the University Hospital Hamburg–Eppendorf working at the international forefront in their fields

The second part deals with emerging treatment strategies integrating novel insights into tumor heterogeneity and building on both, molelularly targeted therapies and emerging cancer immunotherapies. You have the opportunity to hear recent insights from various tumor types and to discuss novel opportunities but also the challenges faced during the clinical implementation with our international and Norwegian speakers.

The third part is dedicated the patients perspective, where Anniken Golf Rokseth will share her story reminding all of us why we are putting our efforts into this area every day.

 

Welcome for the 7th time
Cancer Crosslinks 2015 is the seventh edition of this national meeting. This year’s event is hosted and developed in collaboration with BMS, Roche and the Norwegian Cancer Society. We thank our Program Committee with Bjørn Tore Gjertsen, Hans Petter Eikesdal, Christian Kersten and Ragnhild Lothe for their important contributions to the program development.

Call in Immuno-Oncology: 9 applications received

By deadline November 15, Oslo Cancer Cluster received 9 applications for collaborative innovation projects addressing our Immuno-Oncology call on MNOK 1, 2. The applications are now being evaluated and the winners will be announced on Oslo Cancer Cluster`s Christmas Meeting, December 1st.

– We are very pleased about the significant interest and very positive feedback from our members for this funding opportunity. The number and quality of the applications and the breadth of the topics confirms the particular strength in the cancer immunotherapy area in Norway. Based on the feedback from last year’s winners we know that the funding despite the relatively small amount, truly makes a difference and helps to advance the immuno-oncology portfolio within the cluster. Therefore we continuously work to increase the funding available for our members, says Jutta Heix, International Advisor in Oslo Cancer Cluster.

Evaluation process

A selection committee with representatives from Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, Innovation Norway, with academic, clinical and financing experts as advisors will review the applications. Projects are selected based on their novelty, commercial potential and feasibility. It is important that the funding must make a significant difference for the applicant. This can be in the sense that the project will not be materialized without the funding or that the project will be better (e.g. broader in scope or deeper in its investigation. In addition all applications are reviewed by Innovation Norway to see if they qualify for other funding schemes

 

Questions?

Invitation: Career day at NTNU

Volvox&Alkymisten is the society for chemists, biologists and biotechnologists studying at NTNU in Trondheim. Januray 22, 2015 Volvox&Alkymisten host a career day named VIVO, and they invite members of the Oslo Cancer Cluster to attend and also to present themselves.

Please find more information here:

Questions regarding this event may be adressed to:

Sigrid Ruyter Smolan: +47 93292182 //srsmolan@gmail.com

Gunnar Gårdemyr appointed CEO in Targovax

The board of Targovax is pleased to announce Mr. Gunnar Gårdemyr as the new CEO from January 12th, 2015.

Mr Gårdemyr has more than 30 years of international experience from the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. His experience includes management, business development, mergers & acquisitions, global marketing and commercial strategy. He holds the position as Corporate Advisor for Acino Pharma in Basel, Switzerland today. Prior to this position, he was Senior Vice President, Corporate Development/M&A, Global Business Development, Nycomed and Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Takeda in Zurich, Switzerland, where he was in charge of the commercial assessment of external business development licensing opportunities.

Mr Gårdemyr started his career in Astra, followed by Ferring, Tigran Technologies and Retinalyze.

He has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Economics from the University of Lund, Sweden.

Jónas Einarsson, Chairman of Targovax, says, “We are delighted to welcome Gunnar Gårdemyr to Targovax. Our ability to attract an experienced industry executive with Gunnar’s track record and knowledge reflects Targovax` potential. His leadership will accelerate the company’s further development”.

“We are very grateful to Hanne Mette D. Kristensen for her contribution by leading Targovax from establishment to a phase II company”, says Jónas Einarsson.

 

Facts:

Targovax
Targovax was established in October in 2010 to develop immunotherapy in the form of therapeutic cancer vaccines based on pioneering research at the Norwegian Radium Hospital and Norsk Hydro. Mutation of RAS is an early mutation in the transformation of a normal cell into a cancer cell. Lead candidate TG01 educates the body’s immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells with RAS mutations. TG01 has Orphan Drug status for pancreatic cancer in the EU and US and is currently in Phase II trials in operated pancreatic cancer, patients start treatment up to 12 weeks after surgery. The company is located in Lysaker, close to Oslo, Norway.
www.targovax.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BerGenBio Announces First Patient Dosed in BGB324 AML Trial

Oslo Cancer Cluster member BerGenBio AS announces first patient dosed in its multi-centre Phase 1b trial (BGBC003) of BGB324, a selective inhibitor of Axl, in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway.

The two part Phase 1b trial will primarily investigate the safety and tolerability of BGB324 when administered as a single agent and in combination with standard of care drug (cytarabine) in patients with AML; secondary endpoints will also explore evidence of clinical response and assess novel biomarkers. The study will be conducted at six sites in Norway, Germany and the United States. The Company expects data to be available from this trial in 2015.

Professor Bjørn Tore Gjertsen, Principal Investigator at Haukeland University Hospital, said:

“BGB324 is a potential breakthrough treatment for patients with aggressive AML, and it is particularly encouraging that a forward-thinking biotech company like BerGenBio prioritised a trial for patients with this aggressive blood cancer. I am delighted that I am able to offer this experimental drug to my patients and to allow us to test a novel therapeutic concept in patients that have limited treatment options.”

Richard Godfrey, Chief Executive Officer of BerGenBio, commented:

“We continue to progress BGB324, our first-in-class selective Axl inhibitor, through early clinical development; recently we also received FDA clearance and this trial will open imminently in the United States and at sites in Germany. The novel mechanism of action of this class of drugs holds great potential as a treatment for many aggressive drug resistant cancers; we will also investigate BGB324 in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Therefore we see successful completion of this study as a key value inflection point for the Company. We expect preliminary data from these studies in 2015.”

About the BGBC003 trial
BGBC003 is a multi-centre Phase 1b trial of BGB324, a selective inhibitor of Axl, in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) The two part Phase 1b trial will investigate dose escalation and expansion of BGB324 in patients with refractory/relapsed AML an aggressive form of cancer in which certain types of white blood cells (granulocytes or monocytes) become cancerous, at six sites in three countries.

The primary objective of the first part of the trial is to identify the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of BGB324 and the secondary objectives are to identify the dose limiting toxicity (DLT), safety and tolerability and confirm the pharmacokinetics of the drug candidate. The primary objective of the second part of the trial is to identify the safety, and tolerability of BGB324, as a single agent and in combination with low dose cytarabine, with a secondary objective of determining the efficacy of BGB324 as a single agent and in combination with low dose cytarabine.

 

About BGB324
BGB324 is a first-in-class, highly selective small molecule inhibitor of the Axl receptor tyrosine kinase. It blocks the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is a key driver in drug-resistance and metastasis.

 

About Acute myeloid leukaemia
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is an aggressive cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It is characterised by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that accumulate in the bone marrow and prevent the production of other normal blood cells. It is estimated that 1 in 243 people will be diagnosed with AML during their lifetime. In the United States, the five-year overall survival is 24%. It is estimated that 40-45% of patients younger than 65 years can be cured with current therapies, however only 10% of older patients achieve long-term survival. BerGenBio has shown that more than 50% of AML patients have elevated levels of Axl and by inhibiting Axl with BGB324 in preclinical studies a substantial and potentially therapeutic reduction in leukaemic burden can be achieved.

 

About BerGenBio AS
BerGenBio AS is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company. The company is committed to developing innovative therapeutics that inhibit EMT, prevent the formation of cancer stem cells and disrupt the cellular mechanisms that drive acquired cancer drug resistance. The company is founded on proprietary platform technology, CellSelect™, which uses information from RNAi screening studies to identify and validate novel drug targets and biomarkers. BGB324 is the first compound in BerGenBio’s pipeline to enter clinical trials in AML and NSCLC, with additional compounds and drug targets at different stages of preclinical development.

www.bergenbio.com

 

Targovax AS has reached primary endpoint in ongoing phase I/II trial

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Targovax AS has reached an important milestone in the ongoing clinical trial investigating its cancer vaccine TG01 for treatment of operable pancreatic cancer.

Targovax announces that the primary endpoint for the ongoing phase I/II clinical trial CT TG01-01, regarding immune response and side effects, is already reached. Recruitment of patients for the clinical trial will continue according to protocol and plan as basis for readout of secondary endpoints.

Immunotherapeutic cancer vaccines
Targovax was established in October in 2010 to develop immunotherapy in the form of therapeutic cancer vaccines based on pioneering research at the Norwegian Radium Hospital and Norsk Hydro. Mutation of RAS is an early mutation in the transformation of a normal cell into a cancer cell. Lead candidate TG01 educates the body’s immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells with RAS mutations.

TG01 has Orphan Drug status for pancreatic cancer in the EU and US and is currently in Phase II trials in operated pancreatic cancer, patients start treatment up to 12 weeks after surgery. The company is located in Lysaker, close to Oslo, Norway.

 

FACTS

Immuno- oncology / Cancer vaccines
The Norwegian cancer research community has been in the forefront of understanding the mechanisms for immuno-oncology and cancer vaccines. A cancer vaccine educates the body’s immune system to recognize and kill the cancer cells. The TG01 vaccine is therapeutic and is given as treatment to patients after surgery of cancer patients, to prevent relapse.

Pancreas cancer and other RAS-mutated cancer forms
Pancreatic cancer is a disease affecting 116 000 patients each year in EU and USA, and approximately 690 persons each year in Norway. Approx 15-20% of these are discovered at an early stage and are operable. The mortality is high, and the prognosis for these patients has been more or less unchanged the last 30 years. Approximately 80-90% of patients with pancreatic cancer have RAS mutations in the cancer cells.
RAS mutations occur in approx. 20% of all cancer cases, and are also frequent in colorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and other cancers. Patients with RAS mutations within these indications have proved to be difficult to treat with current treatments, and there is a significant unmet medical need.

Innovation Camp on personalized cancer medicine

Almost 350 students at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences was engaged in last weeks Innovation Camp where they were asked to come up with original ideas on how to communicate personalized cancer medicine.

Photo: Cicilie S. Andersen/Khrono

 

Last week Oslo Cancer Cluster, Young Entrepreneurship Oslo, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HIOA) and researchers from Institute for Cancer Research at Oslo University Hospital teamed up. The reason for teaming up was this year’s Innovation Camp at HIOA for no less than 350 students from the faculties of both health and engineering. In collaboration, we had decided to let the students solve the following task in only 24 hours:

“It is important to give correct and realistic information about what personalized cancer medicine is. Please develop a (physical) product that communicates the essence of what personalized cancer medicine is. Please define your target group, for example students, adults, elderly, health personnel or politicians.”

The students were divided into groups of 4-5 people randomly – and then had 24 hours to come up with an idea, make a business plan and pitch it in a semi-finale before a jury.

 

Challenging assignment

The students were taken a bit back about the assignment at first – thinking it was almost impossible to solve. How ever it turned out that they were much clever than they thought them selves.

Before the assignment was presented they had been given a lecture on innovation and creativity by Kim Østberg Larsen from Young Entrepreneurship Oslo and a lecture on the concept of personalized cancer medicine from Leonardo Meza-Zepeda – plus a lecture on how cancer patient are treated with drugs that are classified as personalized by clinician Åslaug Helleland.

As Meza-Zepeda pointed out – the concept of personalized cancer medicine is unknow even for most of health personell – so there is a great need for communicating what this is, what is the upside are and of course the limitations.

 

Interactive game with cartoon caracters
After a hectic semi-finale round with more than 60 groups pitching in three parallel sessions, 9 groups where selected to go to the grand finale. Common for the groups that were selected was originality and a good understanding of the assignment and a good idea to solve it.

The jury decided on the three differet winners of the awards “Best Pitch”, “Best Innovation” and “Overall winner”.

The “Overall winner” turned out to be the same as the winner of the “Audience Award” that all the participants voted on. This was group nr. 1. They suggested to develop an interactive game for children diagnosed with cancer, using known and loved cartoon characters – where the children could play doctors combating cancer. As the group pointed out in their presentation: this would empower the children whilst giving them both knowledge and comfort.

The winners get an “Innovation Lunch” with the cancer researchers at Oslo University Hospital, including a guided tour to their labs and also inside the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park that is being built now.

 

Please read more about the Innovation Camp here:

 

 

 

 

4 new members in Oslo Cancer Cluster

Oslo Cancer Cluster would like to welcome our four new members on board: DNB Bank, Oslo and Akershus University College: Faculty of Health Sciences, Scandinavian Development Services and Prostataklinikken.

Read more about them here:

 

DNB Bank ASA

“DNB is a leading international bank within certain industries playing a significant role in financing and facilitating the Nordic and international health care sector. DNB Healthcare’s focus in the Nordic region includes companies in the range from small biotech companies to large pharmaceutical companies.  We serve these relationships with a broad range of products, including M&A advisory, equity issues, financing and cash management solutions. Internationally we have more than 50 relationships, including some of the largest healthcare companies in the world. DNB Healthcare mainly focus on pharma, medtech and diagnostic companies, and we work closely with our customers to find the best solutions based on their specific needs. Our teams are recognized as highly skilled and dedicated with extensive industrial, financing and M&A competence. This enable DNB Healthcare to be a valuable partner in strategic and financial discussions.”

Contact person: Benedicte Bakke, Senior Advisor
+47 934 44 029 // benedicte.bakke@dnb.no

 

Oslo and Akershus University College, Faculty of Health Sciences

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA) is Norway’s largest state university college, with a student body of 16 000 students and 1 850 employees. The Faculty of Health Sciences consists of seven departments and offers study programmes on all levels, including two PhD programmes. The faculty has about 5300 students and nearly 530 members of staff.

Contact person: Trine B. Haugen, Vice-Dean R&D, Professor
+47 672 36 104 // trine.b.haugen@hioa.no

 

Scandinavian Development Services

At Scandinavian Development Services we specialize in all regulatory and scientific aspects in the drug development process, from the initial project idea through to the completely developed product. We have expertise in formulation development, non-clinical program planning, design of clinical studies/programs and regulatory affairs during drug development. Depending on the need of the client, we develop strategies for a European or a more global development programs. As a Nordic consultancy company in drug development, we are aiming at building networks within the life-science environment in Norway. We are currently involved in and have extensive experience from oncology-related drug development projects; hence we can offer value to members of Oslo Cancer Cluster.

Contact person: Anna Törner, Managing Director
+46 734331709 // anna.torner@scanddev.se

 

Prostataklinikken AS

Prostataklinikken AS is a private clinic in Oslo that uses innovative technology to provide more accurate diagnosis and early detection of prostate cancer. Prostate Clinic AS uses innovative technology with targeted tissue samples. The method we use is called ANNA C-TRUS (Artificial Neuaral Network Analysis Computerassisted TransrRectal Ultra Sound). The method was developed during the last 20 years, mainly in Germany and partly in the United States, Prof. Dr. Tillmann Loch. The method’s efficiency is well documented by several studies over the past 10 years, Prof. Tillmann Loch has received several awards for his scientific work. ANNA C-TRUS is a method for targeted tissue samples. ANNA C – TRUS (Artificial Neuaral Network Analysis Computerassisted transrectal Ultrasound) can increase the accuracy of tissue samples significantly.

(Prostataklinikken AS changed its name to Colosseum Mann in 2017. The new webpage is colosseummann.no)

Contact person: Ole Mjåtvedt, CEO

+47 93006671 // mjaole@anna-ctrus.com

 

 

 

A Budget for Innovation and Knowledge

The Government of Norway launched their State Budget on October 8th. Overall, we are very pleased with the Government’s will for innovation and knowledge.

“New knowledge and innovation is crucial in order to create the companies of tomorrow and to ensure secure jobs in Norway. We therefore invest in industry-driven research and innovation and give nearly MNOK 300 to strengthen the competitiveness of Norwegian industry”, says Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland in realtion the the launch of the State Budget 2015.


Overall very satisfied
Oslo Cancer Cluster and Nansen Neuroscience Network have analyzed the budget together and are overall very satisfied with the proposals for 2015.

Ketil Widerberg, General Manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster says: “We are very satisfied that the Minister of Trade and Industry shows such a will to invest in industry-driven research. They have in total given more than MNOK 300 to industry-driven research – which is a substantial increase. However, we are dissatisfied that no new seed-funds were established. It is a fact that it is hard to get private investments in the biotech sector if the state is not willing to contribute.”

Leif Rune Skymoen, CEO of Nansen Neuroscience Network says: “The Nobel Prize to Edvard and May Britt Moser shows that it pays off to invest in excellent research. We are very happy to see that the Government agrees on this, and that they will give MNOK 100 to establish research environments of Nobel class. We hope these environments will provide the basis for new treatments for diseases of the brain, like Alzheimer’s and psychiatric disorders.”


Horizon 2020 – a grand possibility
All members of both clusters should be aware of the increased funding from the Norwegian Government’s side to take part in the Horizon2020 program.

“The Government gives 115 MNOK in order to stimulate higher participation in the Horizon2020 program. This is a great chance to receive substantial funding from the EU-program, and we should look at this together and see how we may do this successfully”, says Widerberg and Skymoen.


The most important points in the State Budget 2015

  •  120 MNOK more to Skattefunn: You may get up to 6.6 MNOK in tax relief.
    This is an increase from 4,4 MNOK in 2013.
  • Increase of MNOK 70 in the BIA program in the Norwegian Research Council.
    BIA stands for User-driven research-based Innovation and is an important funding scheme for biotech companies.
  •  Increase of 20 MNOK in the FORNY program in the Norwegian Research Council.
    This funding is for verification, and is important to commercialize research.
  • Increase of 110 MNOK in establishment support from Innovation Norway.
  • 115 MNOK to increased Norwegian participation in European research collaborations
  • 100 MNOK to Norwegian word-leading research environments
  • MNOK to free project support from the Research Council of Norway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juice with Omega-3 can become new cancer treatment

Professor Per Kogner (picture) and his research team at Karolinska Institute in Sweden have found that omega-3 fatty acids inhibit cancer growth. Now in a new study children who have had cancer are receiving supplementation of the fatty acids.

Experiments at the Karolinska Institute is already in full swing. Several years ago, Per Kogners research team saw that omega-3 fatty acids kill cultured cancer cells. Now a group of children who have finished cancer treatment have been selected for inclusion in a clinical trial. They get supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) in the form of a juice based nutritional drink containing a high dose of Omega 3 every day for three months. In phase one, researchers will determine the dose that is right, then with longer treatment during phase two, they will study the effects omega-3 have on late complications and cancer recurrence.

See the movie about Per Kogners research

– We know from other studies that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids are good for brain development and that those who eat a diet high in omega-3 are more rarely affected by cancer. Our own research shows that omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the growth of both neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma. Now we go on to see how large doses are needed and how they affect the children, says Professor Per Kogner.

Reduce the risk of relapse and complications
The purpose of the study is to see if supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of relapse in the disease and also if the children feel better when drinking the juice with the fats. The researchers also want to see if complications after treatment can be reduced by using the supplement since it is previously shown that these fatty acids promotes the vision, behavior, heart and blood pressure and brain development.

– We have reason to believe that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of relapse and improve the child’s health, immune system, nutrition, cognition and quality of life. Other researchers have found that omega-3 fatty acids improve the condition of children with ADHD and dyslexia and therefore it is important to test our hypothesis in children with cancer, says Per Kogner.

The reason for the hypothesis that omega-3 fatty acids work for children who have had brain tumors or neuroblastoma, is exactly where the tumors arise.

– Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the peripheral nervous system, medulloblasom in the central nervous system. Nerve tissue contains more fat than any other tissue in the body and is dependent on addressing the omega-3 fatty acids that we eat. In our previous experiments, we have seen that the implanted nerve cell tumors grow smaller and occur less often if you eat a diet that is enriched with omega-3, particularly DHA. Complications affecting the brain or metabolism also occurs in children with other cancers, so they will also be included in the clinical studies.

Fruit juice and fish oil
Omega-3 is found in vegetables and oily fish. The children included in the study will be drinking a specially made fruit juice with fish oil from Norway. The dose of it will be increased over time – as the researchers want to see how the dosage affects the body and if a higher dosage better reduce the risk of late complications and relapse, or maybe just give unnecessary additional risk side effects. The importance of children’s normal diet and previouse fatty acid balance will be investigated thouroughly.

– We want to see what balance is prefered. To see this, we examine the children carefully and measure the cells’ membranes and blood fats repeatedly. The first thing we want answered is how big dose the child needs to feel better, and if any side effects occur. In a few years when Phase 2 is completed, hopefully we know if the risk of relapse can be avoided for children receiving the supplementation, says Per Kogner.
Omega-3 combined with traditional treatment

The research team examines particularly the balance between omega-3 and omega-6,

– Both fats are important for the body’s cell membranes and other processes in the body that inflammation and the immune system, including programmed cell death. Unfortunately, the modern diet has too much omega-6 compared to omega-3.

Another very important part of the research team’s study is to evaluate whether omega-3 fatty acids can be combined with chemotherapy and / or radiation early in cancer treatment.

– The combination may result in us being able to cure more children, while improving nutrition and immune defense. In a few years, the results of our studies might be of value for children with cancer, even for those with leukemia and other tumors, not only neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma.

Kind and effective supplements in cancer treatment
If a supplement of omega-3 fatty acids work in the treatment of children with cancer, says Per Kogner that it will be something completely new.

– We know that chemotherapy kills both cancer cells and normal cells as a double-edged sword, which can both cure cancer and cause severe complications. Omega-3 fatty acid kills cancer cells but protects normal cells, especially brain cells are sensitive. In this way, these fatty acids are both sword and shield at once. With omega-3 sword, you can kill the cancer cells while its shield protects the body’s other cells. It will be both a protective and effective supplement in cancer treatment, the combined sword and shield, says Per Kogner.

Facts about polyunsaturated fats
• Polyunsaturated fats are essential for life. The body can not produce them, we have to get ourselves in them through food.
• The most important polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6.
• Omega-3 found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, some seaweed, walnuts, canola oil and flaxseed.
• Omega-6 For example, in corn oil, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil.
• Omega-3 and Omega-6 has many different functions and is required in particular for the body to build and repair cells. They also affect the regulation of blood pressure, the kidneys are functioning and our immune system.
• Omega-3 and omega-6 affects the body in different ways. In many cases omega-3 attenuates the effects of omega-6, for example, when it comes to blood clotting and the immune system. Both lipids interact and it is therefore important to get through the food right amount of both.

Flocking to Norway

Oslo’s cancer research community attracts international attention. Foreign companies engaged in the cancer field are flocking to Norway and Oslo to benefit from the city’s cancer research community. ‘This is a stamp of quality,’ says Ketil Widerberg, General Manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster.


This article is written by journalist Ina Vedde Fjærestad, and was published in KAPITAL 14/2014.
Oslo Cancer Cluster have kindly been allowed to translate it to English and publish it on our site.


 Several foreign companies are now showing an interest in establishing themselves in the capital to become part of Oslo Cancer Cluster. They are attracted by the close-knit environment for cancer research and development of drugs, treatment and diagnostic methods for cancer.

Major interest from abroad.
‘The fact that foreign companies are coming to Oslo is a stamp of quality for the Norwegian community and what we are developing here. It is also important in relation to developing an industry based on cancer research,’ says Widerberg of Oslo Cancer Cluster to Kapital business magazine. He does not want to reveal any names, but confirms that several foreign companies have shown an interest.

‘These are companies in the cancer field from countries such as the UK and Denmark – companies at the clinical stage,’ says Widerberg. He recently attended the world’s biggest biotechnological convention in San Diego, and says that he was surprised by the amount of interest several major companies showed in Norwegian research.

‘Several people contacted me and wanted to arrange a meeting to hear more about our work here.’
Kapital has information that the Danish company Rhovac is among the companies considering setting up in Norway. The company is at the final pre-clinical stage in the development of potential vaccines for cancer treatment.

Funding as a pull factor
Oslo Cancer Cluster was established in 2006 and currently has almost 70 members – enterprises, organisations, hospitals and universities that engage in cancer diagnostics and treatment. The cluster brings together the whole value chain in cancer treatment – everything from research institutions to hospitals, financial institutions and the big pharmaceutical companies.

The cluster is partly publically funded as a Norwegian Centre of Expertise (NCE). The overriding objective is to improve the lives of cancer patients by stimulating the development of new cancer drugs and diagnostics. The research community in Oslo has become especially well known for its expertise in immuno-oncology, a field that involves triggering the body’s own immune system in the battle against the cancer cells. This field attracts particular attention from foreign companies.

‘We are experiencing increasing interest from abroad, which is fun and a sign of recognition of our community,’ says Jónas Einarsson, CEO of the Norwegian Radium Hospital Research Foundation. He confirms that they are now working with four companies from Sweden, Denmark, the UK and Germany, respectively, some of which are considering moving their whole company to Norway.
Competitors and collaborators
The companies that choose to become Norwegian also gain access to good schemes for companies that engage in what is known as early-phase research. For example, they can apply for funding from the SkatteFunn tax relief scheme. All Norwegian companies that run research projects can apply for tax relief under this scheme.

‘Of course, the more companies that establish themselves and develop projects in this field, the better. We achieve good cluster dynamics. The companies compete for the same funding and investors, and will be competing in the same market later. At the same time, they can benefit in many ways from synergies and collaboration in the development phase,’ says Einarsson. He is often part of the delegations that present Oslo Cancer Cluster around the world.
‘Many Norwegian companies are going to the Nordic Life Science conference in Stockholm this September. We also attended the biotechnology convention in San Diego in June. We went there to look for partners in the bio-pharmaceutical field, to attract investors, and to help to market Norway as an exciting location for such companies.’

The Swedish company Pharmalink has decided to establish a subsidiary in Norway called Pharmalink Oncology. Pharmalink is engaged in speciality pharma, focusing on rare diagnoses for which they develop what is known as ‘orphan drugs’. The company currently has two products at the clinical stage, Nefecon and Busulipo, and is owned by the government investment company Investinor, Industrifonden and two of the entrepreneurs.

‘Our goal here in Oslo is to buy oncology projects where the research has come a long way and to expand our portfolio,’ said Johan Häggblad in a network meeting organised by Oslo Cancer Cluster on 20 August.

Important to the network
OncoImmunity is a company established by Richard Stratford from Britain, Trevor Clancy from Ireland and Norwegian professor Eivind Hovig. The company develops software intended to be able to assess tumour mutation and identify specific antigens in order to make it possible to use the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

‘The information obtained will help to pick the patients who will respond best to immunotherapy-based treatment. This will lead to a higher success rate at the clinical stage of the development and may spare patients unnecessary treatment.’ says Stratford.

Today, less than seven per cent of cancer drugs enter the clinical stage for the treatment that was the initial intention behind their development. ‘There is a great need for a review of and new methods in this field.’

OncoImmunity became a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster (OCC) in June this year. ‘We see OCC as a good forum for networking – for finding partners and potential investors.’ Stratford has lived in Norway for seven years, and has worked in the biotechnology field for most of that time. He was familiar with OCC before the company became a member. ‘The biggest advantage is the network and support OCC provides. They have a great team that has worked very actively to connect OncoImmunity to valuable contacts in research and development.’

 

DNB invites to informal Healthcare gathering

You are invited to our informal gathering and DNB event for key personell in the Norwegian health care industry, 12th of November 2014.


Please sign up by November 5th to https://www.deltager.no/DNBHealthcare_2014.

Welcome to the DNB Healthcare event 12th of November in DNB’s Headquarter in Bjørvika, Dronning Eufemiasgt 30.

Agenda
16:30-17:00 Registration and light food

17:00-17:10 Welcome and introduction
Terje Straume, Head of International Healthcare DNB

17:10-17:20 Oslo Cancer Cluster – a dedicated oncology cluster
Ketil Widerberg, CEO Oslo Cancer Cluster

17:20-17:40 Healthcare – a prioritized industry sector for DNB
Anders Grevstad, Head of Division International Corporates DNB

17:45-18:45 Business development from an industry perspective – triggers and opportunities
Gaël L’Hévéder, Chief Business Development Officer, PCI Biotech

18:50-19:20 Panel debate

  • Veronika Barrabes, Country Manager Novartis Norge
  • Anders Tuv, Investeringsdirektør Radiumhospitalets forskningsstiftelse
  • Unni Hjelmaas, CEO Lytix Biopharma
  • Karita Bekkemellem, CEO Legemiddelindustriforeningen
  • Benedicte Bakke, Senior Advisor, International Healthcare DNB

19:30 Dinner and networking in restaurant 16th floor

 

Win 100 000 NOK to further develop your research

Last year, a new vaccine technology aiming to manipulate our immune system and thereby combat cancer and HIV won Inven2’s idea competition. Do you have an idea that you want to further develop?

Inven2 is the largest contributor in Norway within the field of commercialization of research, owned by the University of Oslo (UiO) and the Southern and Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority (Helse Sør-Øst). The competition “Idéprisen” is open to all staff and students at UiO And HSØ and is aiming to discover new ideas for products, technologies and services within all disciplines.

Main prize: NOK 100 000
The main prize is 100 000 NOK to use for further developing and testing your idea. In addition, two other ideas will win 20 000 NOK and 10 000 NOK. All submitted ideas will receive written feedback. The deadline to submit is October 8th and the winners will be announced at the conference “Cutting Edge” in the Science Park (Forskningsparken) on October 16th.

Do you want more information or to submit an idea? Visit www.ideprisen.no

 

 

 

The Minister of Education pre launched the long-term plan for research and education with Lytix Biopharma

Yesterday Minister Røe Isaksen and the Minister of Health Bent Høie visited Lytix Biopharma at the Department of Cell therapy at the Cancer Research Institute/Oslo University Hospital. The background is that the Government will present a long-term plan for research and higher education on October 8. This white paper will outline how the government will prioritize the use of research resources in the coming years.

Health, nutrition and outstanding research are some of the priority areas, and the long-term plan will also follow up on Health&Care21. Both Ministers pointed out that Lytix Biopharma is a good example of several aspects of the plan.

CEO Unni Hjelmaas in Lytix Biopharma appreciate the contact with both ministries.

Right focus from the Government
– It is an honor for Lytix Biopharma to be part of this and at the same time be acknowledged for many of the objectives set in the long term plan for research and higher education as well as the Health&Care21, says Hjelmaas. We are ensured that the Government has the right focus after the insight we got into the long term plan today. We now look forward to seeing this be moved from words to action.

The General Manager of the Pharma Industry Association in Norway Karita Bekkemellem was also present. She was very enthusiastic after the meeting. – This is a recognition that the pharma industry is an important contributor to good patient treatment. It is positive that the Government now focus on an active public and academic partnership with the pharma industry. We look forward to contribute, she continues.

Long-term research and higher education
The Government announced in May that it will present a long-term plan for research and higher education in autumn 2014. The objective is a strategic, coordinated and predictable research and higher education policy that lays the foundation for Norway to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead of us.

The long-term plan is a tool to target efforts on areas where Norway has strategic advantages, and to meet future needs for knowledge in key areas. At the same time the long-term plan allow for crossing borders and for innovative research that can give us new insight in the long term.

 

Lytix Biopharma
Lytix Biopharma’s technology is based on nature’s own defense mechanism. The membranes of bacteria and cancer cells are destroyed. Our technology has the potential to meet two substantial medical challenges; treatment of infections regardless of resistance and cancer therapy that activates the patient`s own immune system. Lytix Biopharma’s strategy is to develop its drug candidates to Proof of Concept, and then bring in partners for the final stages of product development and commercialization. See www.lytixbiopharma.com.

16 MNOK to BerGenBio from the Wellcome Trust

Oslo Cancer Cluster member BerGenBio AS has been granted a 1.6 million (NOK 16 million) Seeding Drug Discovery Award from the UK’s Wellcome Trust to develop novel small molecule inhibitors against BGB002, its proprietary, novel cancer target.

The Wellcome Trust Seeding Drug Discovery Awards are to identify and fund especially promising, innovative new therapeutic concepts through to clinical implementation and applications are highly competitive.

 


We strongly encourage other members of the Oslo Cancer Cluster to apply for funding from the Wellcome Trust as well:


 

Novel cancer target
BGB002 is a novel cancer target identified by BerGenBio, which controls tumour cell malignant features. This gene is up-regulated in several cancer types incluApplication Not for Profit – the Wellcome Trustding the difficult to treat malignancies such as triple-negative-breast cancer. Using its CellSelect? technology, BerGenBio demonstrated that BGB002 strongly activates tumour cell Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT), a precursor to metastatic spread. Subsequent target validation studies demonstrated BGB002’s unique and pivotal role in mediating EMT, facilitating the escape of transformed cells and engendering resistance to standard of care anti-cancer regimens..

BerGenBio holds patent applications on BGB002 and is developing novel selective small molecule inhibitors to the target with Sygnature Discovery Ltd, the UK’s largest independent service provider of integrated drug discovery, with expertise in medicinal chemistry, in vitro bioscience, computational chemistry and informatics.

The Award, which is made in the form of a convertible loan, will fund the next phase of the Company’s BGB002 development project over the next 12 months.

Richard Godfrey, Chief Executive Officer of BerGenBio, commented:
“The receipt of this Wellcome Trust Seeding Drug Discovery Award is a tremendous achievement and a solid endorsement both for BerGenBio’s expertise in identifying key molecular drivers of aggressive drug resistant cancers and for our ability to translate these discoveries into viable drug candidates. I am particularly proud of the successful collaborative effort by our staff and the team at Sygnature. They work exceptionally well together and provide complementary skill sets. Scientists from BerGenBio and Sygnature worked co-operatively across their respective sites to assemble a highly compelling application and successfully co-presented the project at the final evaluation stage.

“The Wellcome Trust receives hundreds of applications for this type of funding and grants just a few awards each year to projects with outstanding science and innovation that are working to address a substantial unmet medical need.

“This funding will aid in our research and development effort to uncover novel small molecule therapeutics to treat aggressive, resistant cancers.”

 

About BerGenBio AS
BerGenBio AS is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company. The company is committed to developing innovative therapeutics that inhibit EMT, prevent the formation of cancer stem cells and disrupt the cellular mechanisms that drive acquired cancer drug resistance. The company is founded on proprietary platform technology, CellSelect?, which uses information from RNAi screening studies to identify and validate novel drug targets and biomarkers. BGB324 is the first compound in BerGenBio’s pipeline to enter clinical trials in AML and NSCLC, with additional compounds and drug targets at different stages of preclinical development. www.bergenbio.com

 

About the Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is the second-highest-spending global charitable foundation, dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports bright minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities, including public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests. www.wellcome.ac.uk.
For more information on the Seeding Drug Discovery Award, please visit the Wellcome Trust website: http://j.mp/SeedingDrugDiscovery


About Sygnature Discovery Ltd.
Sygnature Discovery is the UK’s largest independent provider of integrated drug discovery with core capabilities including medicinal chemistry, in vitro bioscience, computational chemistry and informatics. We also provide ADME, in vitro toxicology, early safety pharmacology, in vivo efficacy models, ion channel expertise, protein production and X-ray crystallography according to our clients’ specific needs, via long-term strategic alliance partners. http://www.sygnaturediscovery.com

 

Lytix Biopharma awarded Nordic Stars 2014

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Lytix Biopharma is one of three biotech companies selected as Nordic Stars 2014. The prize is given to companies that the organizers of the Nordic Life Science Days sees as extra promising.

The Nordic Stars Awards have been established to shed some extra light on those companies Nordic Life Science Days see really showcase how innovative Nordic companies can be.

– This is a great honour, says Unni Hjelmaas, CEO at Lytix Biopharma. – We appreciate that we are noticed in an active Nordic market with many promising companies. To receive such an award makes us aware that others are watching us and gives us an extra motivation to prove that it is possible for innovative Nordic companies to succeed.

– With this price and the attention given to us we have a good basis for dialogue with potential partners. We are very grateful that professionals outside our company believe in what we do, said Knut Eidissen, Chairman of the Board of Lytix Biopharma

 

Lytix Biopharma:
Lytix Biopharma’s technology is based on nature’s own defense mechanism. The membranes of bacteria and cancer cells are destroyed. Our technology has the potential to meet two substantial medical challenges; treatment of infections regardless of resistance and cancer therapy that activates the patient`s own immune system. Lytix Biopharma’s strategy is to develop its drug candidates to Proof of Concept, and then bring in partners for the final stages of product development and commercialization. See www.lytixbiopharma.com.

Nordic Life Science Days:
Nordic Life Science Days is the Nordic region’s largest partnering conference for the global life science industry. The conference attracts leading decision-makers in the life science sector, including the bioengineering, pharmaceuticals and Med Tech segments, along with investors, research institutions, politicians and authorities. This year’s Nordic Life Science Days event is taking place in partnership with Oslo Cancer Cluster and Toulouse Cancer-Bio-Santé Cluster.

This year they have:
840+ registered delegates
570+ companies/organizations
26 countries represented
7000+ meeting requests in partneringONE
1400+ accepted meetings
480+ licensing opportunities

Strong Scandinavian Cancer Immunotherapy Mission

A very strong Scandinavian immunotherapy delegation is in the US September 15 – 19 to meet peers from some of the most prominent institutions “over there”. Medicon Valley Alliance is arranging this unique opportunity and have kindly invited members of Oslo Cancer Cluster to join.

As of now 22 delegates from Scandinavia will visit some of the world’s leading universities, research groups, clinical centers and big pharmaceutical companies working within the immunotherapy field. This partnering mission will thus enable the delegates to learn more about the latest research and business trends within immunotherapy in the US while expanding their network – all in just one week.

Strong Norwegian players in the field of immuno-oncology; Inven2, Targovax, Ultimovacs, Nextera and PCI Biotech are joining the delegation from Oslo Cancer Cluster`s side. Immuno-oncology is one of the hottest research topics globally now, and the Scandinavian players are considered to be strong in this area.

Download program

CANCER IMMUNOTHERAPY PARTNERING MISSION 2014

Cancer Immunotherapy Partnering Mission
Washington DC – Baltimore – NYC – Boston

September 15 – 19, 2014

Delegates will visit:

  • The David H. Koch Institute for integrative cancer research @ MIT
  • Merck Research Laboratories
  • MASSBIO event: Cancer Immunotherapy – Investment and Partnering trends
  • Dana-Farber cancer institute
  • Novartis institute for Biomedical Research
  • NYU Langone Medical center/Perlmutter Cancer Center
  • Cancer Research Institute
  • Mount Siani Health System in NYC
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
  • John Hopkins Hospital, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute

Job opportunities: 2 Medical Advisors – CNS and Oncology

Janssen wish to strengthen their medical affairs team in Norway. We are hereby seeking 2 field based Medical Advisors to support our business in CNS and Oncology.

The Medical Advisor is responsible for becoming a scientific and clinical expert on our portfolios and its related clinical areas and competitors. With this expertise, the field based Medical Advisor provides clinical and scientific support to internal and external customers in the Nordic countries.

Please see the full advertisement here.

Both positions are based at Lysaker, Norway, and will report directly to Therapeutic Area Head Oncology and Therapeutic Area Head CNS.

Questions?
Further questions about the positions can be addressed to Mr Jon Bjørbekk, Kelly Scientific, +47 952 11 580
or Mr Thomas Lund, tel: +47 401 080 70.

 

Lifstream with in debth articles on Oslo Cancer Cluster

Karl Simpson from Liftstream, a company that provides recruitment services to the global life sciences sector, visited the Oslo Cancer Cluster this Summer. Simpson just published in-debth analysis of both the cluster and some of the members. Please read an excerpt below and more on their web site www.liftstream.com.

“Oslo, Norway is home to the emerging Oslo Cancer Cluster, a growing cluster with a host of exciting companies targeting the oncology therapeutics and diagnostics marketplace. These companies include, Nordic Nanovector, Lytix BioPharm, Targovax and Ultimovacs.

The Oslo Cancer Cluster has big ambitions to create a global cluster comprised of world-leading experts in cancer drug development and diagnostics and wishes to attract this competence.

With a brand new innovation centre to be launched in 2015, this is an exciting time for this biotech cluster and the companies in it. Liftstream has taken time to profile the cluster through interviews with the Oslo Cancer Cluster leadership, as well as CEO’s of some of the cluster’s companies.”

Why choose Norway as your partner in healthcare R&D?

Norwegian healthcare actors have joined forces and launch the “Norwegian Package” at next weeks Nordic Life Science Days/ECCP. The “Norwegian Package” is five reasons why Norway is a unique place to do research and development within healthcare.

If you would like to learn more – please download a brochure elaborating on the unique features of the Norwegian Healthcare R&D.
Please also come visit our joint stand “Norwegian Healthcare Industry” at the Nordic Life Science Days/ECCP September 7-9 hsoted by Oslo Cancer Cluster and Nansen Neuroscience Network.

Five reasons to collaborate closely with Norwegian actors within Healthcare R&D:

  1. A healthcare system with great opportunities for research
  2. Unique and accessible health registries and biobanks
  3. A great location for clinical trials with a history of delivering on time and quality, a population that is willing to participate in trials and a systematic and transparent regulatory approval process
  4. A strong player in biomedicine with excellent academicresearch environments
  5. A biomedical model that is well adapted for delivering the pharmaceuticals of the future

This is a joint initiative from: Oslo Cancer Cluster, Nansen Neuroscience Network, Innovation Norway, The Research Council of Norway, The Assosiation of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Norway and Link Medical.

K.G.Jebsen Colorectal Cancer Research Centre opened

Professor Ragnhild A. Lothe, Head of Dept of Cancer Prevention at Oslo University Hospital, will lead the new K.G.Jebsen Colorectal Cancer Research Centre that officially opened late August. The center was recently appointed in strong competition with other outstanding scientific environments.

A strong interdiciplinary team of PIs: Professor Michael Bretthauer (gastroenetrologist), Professor Arild Nesbakken (surgeon), Professor Kjell Tveit (oncologist), ass. Professor Rolf I Skotheim (bioinformatics) was co-applicants. The colorectal cancer research centre will focus on improving the methods for diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer and will receive 16 mill NOK over a 4-year period from the K.G. Jebsen Foundation.

 

Publication in NEJM on opening day
“I believe that this new centre may stimulate young medical doctors and researchers to become interested in this serious disease, which is the second most common cancer type in Europe, where only half of the patients survive,” says Lothe. She is also a member of the Board of Oslo Cancer Cluster and has been so for several years.

On the opening day Michael Bretthauer (in the middle of picture) published research on risk of developing colorectal cancer in New England Journal of Medicine, read more on this here.

New CEO in Nordic Nanovector

The Board of Nordic Nanovector is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Luigi Costa as new CEO of the Company.

Mr. Costa has over 20 years of international pharmaceutical and biotech experience. Most recently he held the position of Vice President Europe, Middle East and Africa for Onyx Pharmaceuticals, a global biopharmaceutical company based in South San Francisco, California. He was responsible for the startup of the Company’s international organization and for the pre-launch and launch of its Hematology potential blockbuster Kyprolis outside the US.

Will start 1st September
Prior to joining Onyx Pharmaceuticals, he held several roles of increasing responsibility with Amgen including Head of International Oncology Franchise, General Manager of Italy and Vice President and General Manager of France, the Company’s largest market outside the US. Mr. Costa, is a highly successful senior commercial bio-pharma/’biotech’ leader in Europe.

He has delivered a track record across diverse products and therapeutic areas with experience gained on both sides of the Atlantic. Mr. Luigi Costa will take over as CEO on the 1st September 2014.

Important phase of internationalization
”We are about to enter a new and more international phase in the development of Nordic Nanovector. The Board is therefore pleased that Mr. Luigi Costa has accepted to take over the helm as CEO and take the Company to its new phase,” says Chairman Roy H. Larsen on behalf of the Board. ”We see this as yet another professional acknowledgement of the Company and its product Betalutin’s future potential.”

”We are grateful for Jan A. Alfheim’s personal commitment and contributions as CEO in building up the organization of the Company in the first years of its lifetime” says Roy H. Larsen.

 

FACTS:

About Nordic Nanovector AS
Nordic Nanovector AS is a privately held company established in 2009. The company is based in Norway and has offices and laboratories in Oslo. The company is developing novel innovative anticancer radioimmunotherapeutics to treat non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) and other hematological malignancies.

About Betalutin
Betalutin™, is a pharmaceutical product candidate consisting of a radionuclide conjugated to a tumor seeking carrier/antibody, which can be used for irradiation of malignant metastasized tumors with minimal damage to nearby healthy normal tissue. This technology aims to prolong and improve the quality of life of people who suffer from non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).

Update from PCI Biotech`s study on head & neck cancer

Oslo Cancer Cluster member PCI Biotech reported Friday August 24 that the treatment evaluation of the second group in the intra-tumour light dose escalation part of the ENHANCE study has been completed.

ENHANCE is a phase II study of Amphinex® in combination with the cytotoxic agent bleomycin in recurrent head and neck cancer patients. No serious safety concerns were raised and strong clinical effects with clear indications of tumour response were seen at this light dose level.

Three more patients
A Dose Review Committee (DRC) of clinical experts and company representatives has been established to evaluate the results and provide recommendation for the continuation of the study. The DRC has recommended that three further patients are included at the same light dose level, before final selection of the light dose for proof of concept with intra-tumour treatment. Patients for the next group are currently being screened and will be treated with Amphinex® as soon as possible.

www.pcibiotech.no

Major Oslo Cancer Cluster delegation to Nordic Life Science Days/ECCP2014

The largest Nordic Life Science conference “Nordic Life Science Days” (NLSDays) will take place in Stockholm September 7-9. At present 652 delegates from 456 companies are registered – offering 339 licencing opportunities.

A large delegation from Oslo Cancer Cluster will join this years NLSDays that also features the European Cancer Cluster Partnering, which Oslo Cancer Cluster hosts together with French Cancer Bio-Santé.

17 members present
As of now, 17 Oslo Cancer Cluster member companies will be present at NLSDays/ECCP: APIM Therapeutics, Inven2, Nextera, Ultimovacs, Lifandis, Vaccibody, Norwegian Cancer Society, LINK Medical Research, Lytix Biopharma, Targovax, NTNU Technology Transfer, Oncoimmunity, Bergen Technology Transfer, Birk Venture, Oslo University Hospital, University of Oslo and PCI Biotech.

ECCP Oncology Track
The ECCP Oncology Track features a strong oncology program focusing on three major topics; early stage oncology possibilities, Immuno-Oncology and the coupling of biomarkers, bio banks and big data in cancer treatment. Major international speakers will join and the program covers the whole value chain from research to market.

Norwegian stand promoting Norwegian Healthcare Industry
Kindly sponsored by Innovation Norway, Oslo Cancer Cluster and Nansen Neuroscience Network organizes a joint conference booth promoting cluster members and the Norwegian Life Science sector. Please come and visit us to hear more about the strengths of Norwegian Healthcare Industry. The joint Norwegian Stand will be served by the Management Teams of both clusters.

More information www.nlsdays.com

 

Great Kick-off for Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park

More than 170 people kicked-off the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Parkat the annual Oslo Cancer Cluster Summer Meeting. The Innovation park opens in less than a year, and for the first time participants from the cluster could come in side the Park.

 

 

Program

–15:00: Registration & coffee

15:00– 15:20: “Welcome – update on main projects”
– Ketil Widerberg, General Manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster

15:20–15:40: “The Radium Hospital Innovation Campus”
– Jan Vincent Johannessen, CEO Radium Hospital Foundation

15:40–16:00: “Ullern High School – Spring 2015”
– Esther Eriksen, Ullern High School

16:00–16:20: “Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park”
– Jónas Einarsson, CEO of The Radium Hospital Research Foundation, founder of the Innovation Park

16:40–17:00: Refreshments

17:00–18:00: “New Kids on the Block” – presentations from new members;
• Teva Scandinavia, Asker
• Smartfish, Oslo
• Pharmalink, Stockholm
• NorChip, Hurum
• Oncoimmunity, Oslo
• SFF – Centre for Cancer Biomarkers, Bergen

18:00: Summer networking with exclusive group tours “inside” the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park guided by Skanska

 

 

Vaccibody successfully completes a 35 million NOK financing

Vaccibody has in a new share issue completed a 35 MNOK (4.3 million €) financing from existing and new investors. The share issue was significantly oversubscribed.

The largest new investor is represented by Datum and partners, which will take a seat in the Board of Directors. Arctic Securities is the manager for the share issue. The finalization will take place in the extraordinary general meeting on July 9th.

“We are very pleased to see such a great interest in Vaccibody AS and I look forward to take the company into a new stage by initiating our first clinical study. I very much welcome our new strong investor group and look forward to a fruitful collaboration in the years to come..” CEO, Ole Henrik Brekke

For further information please contact:
CEO Ole Henrik Brekke, ohbrekke@vaccibody.com, +4792628434
Please visit www.vaccibody.com

Ketil Widerberg on Pharma TV

In April 2014, Pharma TV interviewed Ketil Widerberg, General Manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster. Watch the interview and learn more about how Oslo Cancer Cluster works to develop new diagnostics and medication.

Watch the interview here.

In the interview Ketil Widerberg also explains to Fintan Walton from Pharma TV how Oslo Cancer Cluster`s core expertise in the field of Immuno-Oncology makes the cluster well positioned to contribute in this field and how several research projects and ongoing clinical trials will contribute to an exciting pipeline of novel cancer immunotherapies.

 

 

“HelseOmsorg21 represent a unique opportunity”

The HelseOmsorg21 strategy process was launched in 2013 by the Ministry of Health and Care services. The aim of the national process was to promote evidence-based health and care services characterized by high quality, patient safety and efficiency.

 

The final report was presented to Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Health Minister Bent Høie June 25th by leader of the HelseOmsorg21 process John-Arne Røttingen. The strategy has five main priorities aimed at providing better public health, more groundbreaking research, and the growth of a national health industry.

 

Oslo Cancer Cluster has been heard
Oslo Cancer Cluster has contributed to the HelseOmsorg21 process with formal input to the sub-reports on the knowledge system and on health industry development.

“Oslo Cancer Cluster aims to create one of Europe’s leading centers for research, education and development of cancer, and HelseOmsorg21 represent a unique opportunity”, says General Manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster, Ketil Widerberg. “Now we have a national strategy in the health field that addresses the research- and innovation system in health, and this strategy will allow a stronger collaboration between all stakeholders”.

 

The five main priorities are

1. A knowledge boost for municipalities by a solid financing, the establishment of a national registry of municipal health services and a higher education sector and new institutes aimed at municipal needs.

2. Making Health and Care Services an area for industry growth, providing sector-specific measures and stimulate to greater interaction between the public and private sectors.

3. Easier access to and increased utilization of health data.

4. A knowledge-based health care system with greater user interaction and an emphasis on skills, and to develop, try out and document the effects of different interactions.

5. Stronger focus on the internationalization of research and increased participation in the competition in EU research systems.

 

Read more
Download Oslo Cancer Cluster`s formal input

ECCP Oncology Track Program

The program for the ECCP Oncology Track Sessions at NLS Days/ECCP in Stockolm is now ready. We are proud to present a strong program with international renowned speakers, representing the entire oncology value chain. The program addresses both the most important topics in oncology at the moment, plus the companies that might become the success stories of tomorrow.

Download the program for the ECCP Oncology Track Sessions here.

Immuno-Oncology and Big-Data
The ECCP Oncology Track Sessions of 2014 focus on cancer immunotherapies, the hottest topic within oncology at the moment, early-stage oncology innovations and the utilization of biomarkers, biobanks and big data for developing better cancer treatments. We are proud to present several leading speakers from academics, biotechs, as well as a strong lineup of speakers from international Pharma companies.

The program has been developed in collaboration between several leading European Oncology Milieus such as the Oslo Cancer Cluster, Cancer Bio-Santé, Cancer Campus, BioWin, Medicon Valley Alliance/Invest in Skåne and Health Capital Berlin Brandenburg.

Norwegian stand
Kindly sponsored by Innovation Norway there will be a joint Norwegian stand at ECCP/NLS Days 2014 promoting Oslo Cancer Cluster and Nansen Neuroscience Network. We invite all members to display their marketing material here.

Please contact Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen for more information on this opportunity.

 

Nordic Nanovector: Successful closing of MNOK 250

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Nordic Nanovector announce that the company has closed its pre-IPO private placement of NOK 250 million – 100 million more than anticipated.

The private placement, which was directed towards existing shareholders as well as new institutional and professional investors, attracted strong investor interest and was increased from  NOK 150 million to NOK 250 million on the basis of strong demand from solid institutional investors.

Further developing Betalutin™
The private placement was managed by ABG Sundal Collier and DNB Markets and was significantly oversubscribed. Nordic Nanovectors largest shareholder, HealthCap V. L.P. participated in the placement and was allocated 1,800,000 shares. Nordic Nanovector intends to use the net proceeds of the private placement to fund further clinical development of Betalutin™ for treatment of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Norwegian paper DN published this article on the news, siting Roy Larsen: “This may be the new Algeta”.

About Nordic Nanovector AS
Nordic Nanovector AS is a privately held company established in 2009. The company is based in Norway and has offices and laboratories in Oslo. The company is developing novel innovative anticancer radioimmunotherapeutics to treat non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) and other hematological malignancies.
Read more on Nordic Nanovector`s web page.

About Betalutin
Betalutin™, is a pharmaceutical product candidate consisting of a radionuclide conjugated to a tumor seeking carrier/antibody, which can be used for irradiation of malignant metastasized tumors with minimal damage to nearby healthy normal tissue. This technology aims to prolong and improve the quality of life of people who suffer from non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).

Targovax AS is registered on the NOTC-list

Targovax AS is registered on the NOTC-list from June 16th, 2014, with ticker code TRVX. The company has issued 9 429 404 shares, each at par value NOK 0.10.

All shares are registered in VPS with ISIN code NO 001 0689326. Based on the most recent capital increase, June 4th, 2014, where the shares were signed up for NOK 21.50, the company has a post money price of NOK 202 732 186. The company has entered an agreement wiht NOTC AS and will be able to use the reporting system from June 16th, 2014.

Immunotherapy against pancreatic cancer
Targovax is a cancer biotech-company started in October 2010 to develop targeted immunotherapy in the form of therapeutic cancer vaccines. Lead candidate TG01 has Orphan Drug status for pancreatic cancer in the EU and US and is currently in Phase II trials in operated pancreatic cancer. The company is located in Lysaker, close to Oslo, Norway.

Please find more info on the web page www.targovax.com

FACTS:

Targovax
Targovax was established in October in 2010 to develop immunotherapy in the form of therapeutic cancer vaccines based on pioneering research into RAS mutations in the Norwegian Radium Hospital and Norsk Hydro. Mutation of RAS is an early mutation in the transformation of a normal cell into a cancer cell. Lead candidate TG01 has Orphan Drug status for pancreatic cancer in the EU and US and is currently in Phase II trials in operated pancreatic cancer, patients start treatment 1-8 weeks after surgery. The company is located in Lysaker, close to Oslo, Norway.

Immuno-Oncology / Cancer vaccines
The Norwegian cancer research community has been in the forefront of understanding the mechanisms for immuno-oncology and cancer vaccines. A cancer vaccine educates the body’s immune system to recognize and kill the cancer cells. The TG01 vaccine is therapeutic and is given as treatment to patients after surgery of cancer patients, to prevent relapse.

Pancreas cancer and other RAS-mutated cancer forms
Pancreatic cancer is a disease affecting 116 000 patients each year in EU and USA, and approximately 690 persons each year in Norway. Approx 15-20% of these are discovered at an early stage and are operable. The mortality is high, and the prognosis for these patients has been more or less unchanged the last 30 years. Approximately 80-90% of patients with pancreatic cancer have RAS mutations in the cancer cells.
RAS mutations occur in approx. 20% of all cancer cases, and are also frequent in colorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and other cancers. Patients with RAS mutations within these indications have proved to be difficult to treat with current treatments, and there is a significant unmet medical need.

 

Nordic Nanovector: Betalutin™ granted Orphan Designation in Europe

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Nordic Nanovector`s  lead product candidate Betalutin™ has been granted orphan designation for treatment of follicular lymphoma in Europe by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Commission (EC).

Orphan designation for Betalutin™ will provide the company several advantages, including reduced costs related to the clinical development program, as well as commercial exclusivity for ten years once the product reaches the market in Europe.

Market exclusitivity
Jan A. Alfheim, Nordic Nanovector CEO stated: “With the orphan designation for Betalutin™ in the Europe, the company can receive protocol assistance, a type of scientific advice specific for designated orphan medicines and market exclusivity once the medicine is on the market. Fee reductions are also available. These benefits will help tremendously in the development and commercialization of an important new form of treatment of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma“.

About Nordic Nanovector AS
Nordic Nanovector AS is a privately held company established in 2009. The company is based in Norway and has offices and laboratories in Oslo. The company is developing novel innovative anticancer radioimmunotherapeutics to treat non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) and other hematological malignancies.

About Betalutin
Betalutin™, is a pharmaceutical product candidate consisting of a radionuclide conjugated to a tumor seeking carrier/antibody, which can be used for irradiation of malignant metastasized tumors with minimal damage to nearby healthy normal tissue. This technology aims to prolong and improve the quality of life of people who suffer from non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).

 

Cambridge-report shows high number of oncology publications per capita in Norway

MBA students from University of Cambridge did a benchmarking of international oncology clusters this spring on behalf of the Oslo Cancer Cluster.


Please download an excerpt of the report here.

Key findings;
• Norway has a high number of oncology publications per capita
• The entrepreneurial culture in Norway represents untapped commercial potential
• There is a positive collaboration environment within the Oslo Cancer Cluster – based on a high level of trust
• The grant funding process in Norway is highly fragmented and complicated

The report is important for the Oslo Cancer Cluster`s Management Team in our work to further improve the cluster and our member services.

Questions regarding the report may can be directed to Ketil Widerberg.

Vaccibody AS and Phibro Animal Health Corporation enter into Development and License Agreement

The Norwegian vaccine company Vaccibody and Phibro Animal Health Corporation (Nasdaq:PAHC), a global animal health and mineral nutrition company, have signed a global exclusive license agreement which grants Phibro and its affiliates the right to develop, market and sell novel vaccines for the poultry market using the Vaccibody platform technology.

Under the agreement, Phibro and its affiliates have an option to exclusively commercialize new indications for poultry vaccines. Phibro will conduct and finance the development of the poultry vaccines, and Vaccibody is entitled to certain milestone payments upon successful completion of proof of concept for each indication and royalties upon commencement of commercial sales.
The global poultry vaccine market accounts for over 1 billion USD annually with vaccines dedicated to fighting diseases in broilers, layers and breeders playing a critical role in animal welfare as well as protecting the industry from major economic losses.

A milestone
“We are very pleased to enter into a collaboration where Vaccibody’s potent and innovative technology will benefit from Phibro’s demonstrated global capabilities in developing poultry vaccines and bringing them to market. We expect the collaboration to foster novel and highly effective vaccines for the poultry industry. This agreement is the first step in carrying out the company’s strategy of entering into partnerships to exploit the broad applicability of our platform technology. Simultaneously, it allows Vaccibody to focus its resources on its own internal cancer vaccine development program,” said Ole Henrik Brekke, Vaccibody’s CEO.

“We are very excited about working with Vaccibody to apply its technology to further enhance Phibro’s strong portfolio of poultry vaccines,” said Larry Miller, President, Animal Health, of Phibro. “This agreement marks another milestone in Phibro Vaccines’ focus on bringing real innovation to help solve the very challenging disease issues faced by our global customers.”

About Vaccibody
Vaccibody is a vaccine company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines which target cancer and infectious diseases, for human and veterinary use. Vaccibody’s lead program is focused on advancing a therapeutic DNA vaccine against HPV induced cancers currently undergoing preclinical development for a first-in-man study against cervical cancer.
For further information, please visit www.vaccibody.com.

Contact:
Ole Henrik Brekke
CEO, Vaccibody AS
+47 2295 8193
ohbrekke@vaccibody.com

About Phibro Animal Health Corporation
Phibro Animal Health Corporation is a diversified global developer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of animal health and mineral nutrition products for use in the production of poultry, swine, cattle, dairy and aquaculture.
For further information, please visit www.pahc.com.

Contact:
Richard Johnson
Chief Financial Officer, Phibro Animal Health Corporation
+1 201-329-7300
investor.relations@pahc.com

 

Lytix presents at ASCO

Lytix Bioharma presents data at ASCO from the first LTX-315 clinical trial.

Sunday June 1st Lytix Biopharma presents results from the first Phase I clinical study with LTX-315 at the 50th annual ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology). The results are presented as a poster at the ‘Developmental Therapeutics – Immunotherapy Poster Session’. The poster title is “A Phase I study with LTX-315 – an immunogenic cell death inducer in patients with transdermally accessible tumours”.

ASCO is the largest clinical cancer congress, with participants from all over the world.

The overall conclusions from the study were:

  • The main safety issues were primarily dose-related flushing and transient hypotension
  • Tumour infiltrating lymphocytes and tumour regression were observed in some patients
  • The findings confirms the rationale and potential benefit of LTX-315 as a novel intralesional immunotherapy
  • A Phase I/IIa study with LTX-315 is ongoing at four sites in Europe (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01986426)

See the poster here

Pharmaconutrition products for cancer patients

Smartfish is a Norwegian company developing synergistic omega 3 based pharmaconutrition products. Smartfih is now studying the effect of their phamaconutrition on the immune system, and would like to get in contact with Norwegian collaborators.

Smartfish joined the Oslo Cancer Cluster in 2014 and currently have two products on the market that have been clinically developed for the use of cancer patients; Nutrifriend 1100 and Nutrifriend 600. Their patented technology is basis for the product range of orally applied liquid emulsions ecpecially suitable for cancer patients.

Looking for collaborators
“Our core expertise as a company is to develop immune-modulating medical nutrition. Currently we have collaborations with both UCLA in the US and Karolinska in Sweden on a new type of medical nutrition we are developing containing curcumine. Recent findings suggests an effect on the natural killer cells (NK-cells) of the immunesystem, which are important in combating cancer,” says Janne Sande Mathisen, Co-Founder and R&D, Smartfish.

Smartfish is now looking for Norwegian collaborators within immuno-oncology/immunetherapy. Interested parties may contact Sande Mathisen directly:
E-mail: janne@smartfish.no or Mobile: + 47 93 20 87 02.

 

The Norwegian Cancer Society invest in Vaccibody

The Norwegian Cancer Society (NCS) have established an investment fund for Norwegian oncology companies. With the promising development of VB10.16, Vaccibody’s therapeutic vaccine against HPV induced precancerous lesions, NCS has decided to place their first investment in Vaccibody.

NCS will invest 500,000 euros. For publication in Norwegian, see Dagens Næringsliv.

“We are very pleased to see that Vaccibody has fulfilled all investment criteria demanded by NCS and is very proud that we are the first company they are investing in. This investment is an important step toward the financing of our first-in-man study”, CEO Ole Henrik Brekke says in comment.

Read more on Vaccibody.
Read more on the NCS`s investment fund.

NLSDAYS-ECCP 2014: Present your oncology innovation

Present your oncology innovation to the global life science industry at the largest partnering conference in the Nordics – Nordic Life Science Days featuring the 6th European Cancer Cluster Partnering (ECCP). Please note that application deadline is May 19th. 12 innovation projects will be selected to present a pitch.

ECCP and the Nordic Life Science Days features a special Oncology Track during the conference that takes place in Stockholm September 7-9 2014. NORTTH – The Nordic Tech Transfer Network/Health and the organizers invite researchers and oncology start-ups to apply to present their pre-commercial cancer projects to pharma industry and potential investors at the conference.

Great opportunity for oncology start-ups
12 pre-commercial cancer research projects will be selected by a review group consisting of oncology experts and technology transfer office representatives. Organizer Olav Steinnes from the largest Norwegian Tech-Transfer Office, Inven2, says: “This is a great opportunity for start-ups to promote their project, to receive feedback from the audience that can direct the research in the right commercial direction, and last but not least to connect to the key people. This event is above all a unique chance for investors to find the licensing opportunities of tomorrow.”

Criteria to be met:

  • Oncology related project (Rx or Dx)
  • Research conducted at a Nordic academic institution
  • Proof of principle demonstrated
  • Ambition to create a start-up or license out within the next 1-2 years

The application should be a maximum 2 page synopsis covering a short description of the technology and IPR situation, development status and planned project milestones over the next 2 years, description of product, intended use and target market.

Submit your application by May 19th, 2014 to olav.steinnes@inven2.com. Questions regarding the application may be directed to Olav Steinnes on Mobile +47 900 51 219 or E-mail: olav.steinnes@inven2.com.

Reduced rate
For registration and information about the NLSDays – ECCP 2014 please see www.nlsdays.se.
Oslo Cancer Cluster members receive a reduced special offer to participate – read more on this here.

Positive results on bile duct cancer from PCI Biotech

The PCI Biotech stock went straight up on the Norwegian Stock Exchange after successful results from the first dose cohort in the phase I/II study of Amphinex in combination with the cytotoxic agent gemcitabine in patients with inoperable bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). No safety concerns were observed at this dose level.

PCI Biotech have previously shown promising results from phase I/II on head- and neck cancer using the same technology as in this phase I study on bile duct cancer, where the three first patients now has been treated.

Targeted therapy
The PCI-technology was developed at the Norwegian Radium Hospital in the nineties, and is a targeted therapy using light to enhance the effect of existing drugs. PCI is an abbreviation for photochemical internalisation and refers to the process of using light to destabilize the cell membrane of the cancer cells in order to deliver the cancer drug effectively.

Bile duct cancer is rare, but extremely severe. PCI Biotech have chosen bile duct cancer due to a clear medical need for a better local treatment, access with light is easy by using already established treatment procedures and one of the most used cytotoxic agents, gemcitabine, is one of the drugs that is significantly enhanced by PCI in preclinical studies.

Please read the press release here.

The PCI technology
Photochemical internalisation (PCI) technology is a technology for light-directed drug delivery, used to enhance the effect of drugs by targeted illumination of the diseased areas of the body.

About PCI Biotech
PCI Biotech has been listed on Oslo Stock Exchange since 2008. The company is offering effective local treatment solutions in cancer through its proprietary photochemical internalisation (PCI) technology. PCI Biotech’s lead photosensitiser Amphinex® is in Phase II clinical development in head and neck cancer in combination with the cytotoxic bleomycin and in Phase I/II clinical development in bile duct cancer in combination with gemcitabine. Read more on PCI Biotech’s website

ICCS 2014: Cutting-edge oncology innovations

On June 22nd, one day prior to the BIO International Convention in San Diego, the International Cancer Cluster Showcase 2014 kicks off. The showcase is an opportunity to head-start the partnering at BIO 2014 and get the latest on what is going on in the cancer clusters of Oslo, Massachusetts, Quebec, Chicago, Toulouse, and the UK Golden Triangle.

For the 3rd time Oslo Cancer Cluster will present cutting edge innovations together with its international partners from North America and Europe. Oslo Cancer Cluster members selected to present at this year’s International Cancer Cluster Showcase (ICCS) are BerGenBio, PCI Biotech and Nextera.


ICCS – A winning concept

Previous ICCS-events have attracted 150 – 200 dedicated international oncology professionals. Positive feedback has encouraged Oslo Cancer Cluster and its international partners to continue with this meeting format. BerGenBio’s CEO Richard Godfrey says:

“The ICCS was a great start to BIO 2013, it was interesting to see the other cancer companies present and we made a few excellent contacts that otherwise we may not have connected with. I will certainly be present at ICCS 2014.”

This year two new partners, namely Cancer Campus from Villejuif and Stockholm-Uppsala Life Sciences are joining the ICCS and contribute to leverage the portfolio of oncology partnering opportunities. The International Cancer Cluster Showcase 2014 will be hosted at the San Diego Convention Centre, same site as the BIO 2014 will be hosted.

For information on presenting companies and registration, please see the ICCS conference website: www.internationalcancercluster.org.

 

BIO International Convention 23-26 June, 2014
Oslo Cancer Cluster will also be represented at the world’s largest biotech conference, BIO International Convention. This year the event is taking place on 23-26 June in San Diego, California at the San Diego Convention Center.

Oslo Cancer Cluster will share a centrally located booth with the other Nordic regions; Medicon Valley Alliance, Biopeople, Invest in Skåne and Copenhagen Capacity. All Oslo Cancer Cluster members may display material at the booth which will function as a central meeting place for the members, coordinated by the Oslo Cancer Cluster team.

Building strong international networks to stimulate collaboration, partnerships and thereby innovation for our members is a key strategic goal for Oslo Cancer Cluster. Read more here.

More information about BIO 2014 is found at convention.bio.org.

“Helsemyggordningen” proposed for the Norwegian Parliament

The liberal party Venstre have proposed the implementation of the “Helsemyggordningen,” a financial mechanism for stimulation of health innovation, for the Norwegian Parliament. The proposal have been designated to the The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs in the Parliament.

“Helsemyggordningen” was raised for the Norwegian Parliament on March 19th as a so-called Document 8-proposal. The “Helsemyggordningen” is inspired by a similar and highly successful mechanism to stimulate innovation in the oil and gas sector, named “oljemyggordningen” – hence the name.

Joint cluster proposal
Oslo Cancer Cluster, Oslo Medtech and Nansen Neuroscience Network proposed the “Helsemyggordningen” jointly at a meeting in December 2013, were a report from Menon Buiness Economics analysing the effect of the instrument was made public. The report concludes that this is a scheme that may be implemented in a simple way, and may be very effective in stimulating health innovations.

The three clusters are all very pleased that the liberal party Venstre have lifted the initiative politically.

Read the Document 8-proposal from Venstre here.
Read the report of “Helsemyggordningen” from Menon Business Economics here.

The Radium Hospital Foundation support the R&D Network Meetings 2014

The Radium Hospital Foundation (Radiumhospitalets Legater) will support the Oslo Cancer Clusters R&D Network Meetings 2014, and collaborate closely with the cluster on developing these meetings.

Oslo Cancer Clusters R&D Network Meetings are the backbone of the clusters strategic goal to stimulate collaborations and partnership by further develop strong national and international networks.

Important for partnering and innovation
The R&D Network Meetings target the members and collaborators of the cluster and is usually held five to six times annually. Each R&D Network Meeting is focused on a specific oncology theme, featuring speakers and angles from basic research to pharma, encouraging interdiciplinary and multi-diciplinary comptence development and partnering.

“The R&D Network Meetings contribute to important networking for the researchers at the Radium Hospital. In addition it gives the participants the opportunity to keep up to date in the ever changing field of cancer research,” says Karl-Erik Giercksky, Clinical Advisor at the Radium Hospital Foundation.

Ketil Widerberg, General Manager of the Oslo Cancer Cluster is very grateful for the support: “The contribution from the Radium Hospital Foundation to our R&D Network Meetings is very important and will contribute to the importance of connecting the members of the cluster further. This is vital to drive and stimulate oncology innovations for the benefit of the cancer patients.”

The Radium Hospital Foundation
The Radium Hospital Foundation is built from gifts and donations given from people, organisations and large companies alike. These contributions enable The Radium Hospital to maintain their place as a world leading Comprehensive Cancer Center by supporting cancer research and excellent patient care.

Find more information on the Radium Hospital Foundation here.

 

R&D Network Meetings 2014

March 5th: Urologic Cancer

April 23rd: Personalised Medicine Workshop

August 20th: R&D Summer Meeting
Featuring presentations of the new members; New Kids on the Block

October 22nd: Conjugated antibodies

December 10th: Christmas R&D Network Meeting

Nansen Prize to Professor Kirsten Sandvig

The Fridtjof Nansen prize for excellent research in science and medicine 2014 is awarded to Centre for Cancer Biomedicine’s Kirsten Sandvig for her groundbreaking work within biochemistry and cell biology.

Oslo Cancer Cluster congratulates Professor Kirsten Sandvig with the Fridtjof Nansen prize for excellent research in science and medicine (Fridtjof Nansens belønning for fremragende forskning innen realfag og medisin). Sandvig is awarded the prize for her groundbreaking results within the fields of biochemistry and cell biology.

Prizewinner Sandvig receives a medal, a diploma and 150,000 NOK at a ceremony on the 5th of May at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Kirsten Sandvig is Principal Investigator in CCB and Professor at the University of Oslo, Department of Biosciences. Sandvig’s research group is located at the Institute for Cancer Research, the Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital.

Presentations from Cancer Crosslinks 2014

Cancer Crosslinks 2014, January 23, was the 6th edition of this annual oncology conference bringing together hematologists, oncologists and the industry in Norway.

This years conference was developed and hosted in collaboration with partners BMS, Amgen and the Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital. The feedback from the more than 220 participants was as always very positive, and we promise to come back with a even more exciting 7th edition of Cancer Crosslinks in January 2015.

Below you may find the main presentations featured at Cancer Crosslinks 2014, including the international keynote presentations from Professor Mario Sznol, Yale Cancer Centre and Professor Cornelis van de Velde, ECCO President. Here you may watch these presentations recorded at the Cancer Crosslinks conference.


Opening Keynotes:

“Opportunities, challenges and visions for cancer research and treatment”

Prof. Kjell Magne Tveit, Head of Department of Oncology, Oslo University Hospital

“Current trends in oncology drug development”
Prof. Gunnar Sæter, Head of the Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital

Main session: New treatment modalities – need for a multidisciplinary approach

International Keynote:
“Cancer immunotherapies – novel treatment opportunities and their implications”
Prof. Mario Sznol, Yale Cancer Center, New Haven, CT, USA

International Keynote:

“Multidisciplinary collaboration for patient-centric oncology”
Prof. Cornelis van de Velde, Leiden University Medical Centre, Netherlands, ECCO President

“Optimizing treatment for each patient: MetAction as a Norwegian initiative”
Kjetil Boye MD, PhD; Oslo University Hospital as representative for the MetAction team
Find more info on Cancer Crosslinks 2014 here.

Bergen Bio Raises MNOK 75

BerGenBio AS, an oncology biopharmaceutical company, announces that it has raised NOK75 million (c.$12.5 million) from a syndicate of new and existing investors through a private placement. This follows a $6.0 million round in May 2013.

Proceeds from the financing will be used to support the development of the Company’s innovative portfolio of innovative cancer therapeutics.This includes the on-going clinical development of its lead drug candidate, BGB324, a first-in-class selective AXL kinase inhibitor, which is currently in Phase Ib clinical studies to evaluate its safety and initial signs of efficacy to treat different cancers as a single agent and in combination with other drugs.

Fund pipeline advancement
The funds raised will be used to complete these studies, data from which is anticipated in 2015. BGB324 is the only selective Axl receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor in clinical development to target tumour epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and has a potential application as a novel treatment for drug-resistant solid and hematological cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer and acute myeloid leukemia.

Richard Godfrey, CEO of BerGenBio commented: “I would like to thank our new and existing investors for their support. This important funding will enable us to advance our pipeline to key value inflection points. We believe that targeting Axl is a promising new approach to treating drug resistant cancers. We look forward to using this investment to continue exploring the clinical opportunity for our lead Axl inhibitor, BGB324, and our other candidate compounds.”

Huge market potential
Sveinung Hole, Managing Partner Sarsia Seed commented “At the seed stage we recognised the huge addressable market potential for BerGenBio`s EMT inhibitors and have continued to support the Company throughout its development. I am delighted the Company continues to attract funding and is able to progress its promising pipeline of novel targeted cancer therapies through further clinical development and realising significant value gain.

Ann-Tove Kongsnes, Investment Director, Investinor AS added, `we are excited by the Company’s prospects and are confident in the management team’s ability to drive these programs forward.”


About the Axl kinase receptor

The Axl tyrosine kinase receptor is regarded as one of the most promising new therapeutic targets for cancer drug  development It is upregulated in tumours residing in a hostile micro-environment and plays a crucial role in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which in turn is a key driver of metastasis (cancer spread) and a mechanisms of acquired drug-resistance.

About BerGenBio AS
BerGenBio AS is a biopharmaceutical company located in Bergen, Norway. The company is committed to developing first in class therapeutics that inhibit tumor EMT, preventing the formation of cancer stem cells and disrupting the important mechanisms of acquired cancer drug resistance. The company is founded on proprietary platform technology called CellSelect™, which uses information from RNAi screening studies to identify and validate novel drug targets and biomarkers. BGB324 is the first compound in BerGenBio’s pipeline to enter clinical trials, with additional compounds and drug targets at different stages of preclinical development. www.bergenbio.com

 

Targovax in phase IIa with cancer vaccine

Immunotherapy specialist Targovax reaches Phase IIa in operable pancreatic cancer with its TG01 immunotherapy. RAS specific immune responses were induced in all 6 patients in Phase I, and no substantial side effects were observed in the patients. The clinical trial has now expanded from Norway to two sites in the UK.

 

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Targovax started in 2010 to develop targeted immunotherapy in the form of therapeutic cancer vaccines. The TG01 vaccine has been given as treatment to cancer patients, in combination with chemotherapy after surgery, to prevent relapse. TG01 is granted Orphan Drug Status for pancreatic cancer in both EU and USA. The promising Phase I results has triggered a $2M (12.5 MNOK) milestone from current owners.

 

Clinical trial in phase II
Gustav Gaudernack, professor emeritus at Oslo University Hospital, and one of the inventors of the technology, states: “I have great expectations for the principle of treating patients with peptide based immunotherapy, which educates the patients’ immune system to fight cancer. It is exciting that the TG01 project now reaches this important milestone in combination with chemotherapy”.

The clinical trial has now formally entered Phase IIa, and the trial is expanding from Norway to two sites in UK, namely The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, and The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool.

UK Principal Investigator Professor Daniel Palmer says: “Vaccination targeting RAS mutations is an extremely promising area of research and with our considerable experience in conducting multicentre immunotherapy trials, we are looking forward to help expand Targovax’s TG01 trial into Phase IIa.”

Important milestone
CEO Hanne Mette Kristensen commented: “Through this important milestone, we have significantly reduced risk in TG01 development by confirming observations of specific immune response and safety for the patients. This is very encouraging. We will continue to work towards confirming the link between TG01 treatment and effect on survival for these patients. We are proud that the two UK sites now participate in the clinical trial – we see this as a quality mark. ”

Targovax’ RAS specific immunotherapy triggers both cytotoxic- and helper T-cell- immune responses, educating the patients’ immune system to recognize and kill the cancer cells.

New IPR is established as a basis for expanding pipeline to broader indications.

“Based on these results, Targovax is now focused on completing the ongoing Phase IIa study with TG01 in surgically resected cancer. In addition, the company is initiating preparations for a randomized Phase II, and completing a Phase I trial with TG02 in larger indications such as colorectal cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC),” concludes Kristensen.

Read more in the press release on Targovax’ website.

 

About Targovax
Targovax develops immunotherapy in the form of therapeutic cancer vaccines. TG01 is being developed for pancreatic cancer as its first indication. The drug has been investigated in exploratory trials in patients with promising results. The company is located in Lysaker, close to Oslo, Norway.

TG01 and RAS
TG01 is a therapeutic cancer vaccine which means that it educates the body’s immune system to recognize and kill the cancer cells. TG01 is based on pioneering research into RAS mutations in the Norwegian Radium Hospital (now Oslo University Hospital) and Norsk Hydro. Mutation of RAS disrupts normal cell division signaling and contributes to development of cancer cells and tumors. RAS mutations are found in approximately 25% of all cancers and in particular in pancreatic cancer (80-90%), colorectal cancer (40%) and non-small cell lung cancers (30%). Lead candidateTG01 has Orphan Drug status for pancreatic cancer in the EU and US and is currently in Phase IIa trials in surgically resected pancreatic cancer, patients start treatment 1-8 weeks after surgery.

Pancreas cancer and other RAS-mutated cancer forms
Pancreatic cancer is a disease affecting 116 000 patients each year in EU and USA, and approximately 690 persons each year in Norway. Approx 15-20% of these are discovered at an early stage and are operable. The mortality is high, and the prognosis for these patients has been more or less unchanged the last 30 years. Approximately 80-90% of patients with pancreatic cancer have RAS mutations in the cancer cells.
RAS mutations are also frequent in colorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and other cancers. Patients with RAS mutations within these indications have proved to be difficult to treat with current treatments, and there is a significant unmet medical need.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park

Join the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park & Incubator

May 2015 is THE grand opening of Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park and Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator. Would you like to join us in the fight against cancer by being part of a power centre for developing innovative cancer treatment? Contact us now, and see what we may offer you as a tenant  in the Innovation Park or the Incubator.

With the opening of the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, the whole value chain within oncology R&D in the Oslo-area is brought together at one place: The Radium Hospital Innovation Campus.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park is made up of a ground space of two floors and three semi-separate buildings on top. Ullern High School with 900 students will inhabit the ground space. Here you will also find a cantina, a hall for multi-purpose use and a seminar room.

Already now, the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park is filling up. If you decide to join us, you will be in good company as well as in the heart of where innovative cancer R&D are being developed.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator  – where budding biotechs bloom
The Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator will provide a dynamic, creative and professional growth environment for scientists and start-ups within oncology, so that outstanding research is transformed into innovative therapies.

In the Incubator both researchers and start-ups may rent both office and lab space, scaling up and down as needed. The Incubator also provides a very attractive “plug and play” model – where all practicalities are taken care of.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator receives financial support from the governmental agency Siva, the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway. The funding will be used to develop and implement a tailor made business development concept for the tenants of the Incubator.

Contact: 

Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park
Jónas Einarsson
Initiator of the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park
Mobile: +47 480 96 355
E-mail: je@radforsk.no

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator
Ketil Widerberg
General Manager, Oslo Cancer Cluster
Mobile: +47 915 77 990
E-mail: kw@oslocancercluster.no

Nordic Life Science Days and ECCP2014 merge

Oslo Cancer Cluster and French partner Cancer-Bio-Santé are joining forces with SwedenBio to offer the global Life Science industry the largest partnering conference in the Nordics – Nordic Life Science Days featuring the 6th European Cancer Cluster Partnering.

Already now oncology biotechs, early stage companies and academics may submit an application for presenting at NLSDays-ECCP 2014 – see more info here.

The 6th European Cancer Cluster Partnering (ECCP) will be integrated in the Nordic Life Science Days in Stockholm September 7. – 9, 2014 as a special Oncology track. Cancer clusters from different European countries have already indicated their interest to team-up for the combined ECCP Oncology stream and the joint event.

“This collaboration is an excellent opportunity to further strengthen the European Cancer Cluster Partnering Platform we have built together with our partner Cancer-Bio-Santé since 2009. The joint event offers enhanced partnering opportunities with more than 800 international delegates and allows us to bring ECCP to Scandinavia once again”, says Oslo Cancer Cluster’s international advisor Jutta Heix.

Olivier Duchamp, Managing Director for Nordic Life Science Days is extremely pleased with the success of last years’ event and says: “This year, our aim is to enhance the Nordic region furthermore and be very focused on recent trends and success stories. We obviously contribute an add-on value to the international partnering arena.”

The 2014 website is launched, and delegates are welcome to register at www.nlsdays.com. Download the press release from the web launch here (pdf).

About Nordic Life Science Days (NLSDays)
Nordic Life Science Days attracts leading decision makers from the Life Science sector, not only from biotech, pharma and medtech, but also from finances, research, policy and regulatory authorities. It is the largest Nordic partnering conference for the global Life Science industry, bringing together the best talents in Life Science, offering the excellent networking and partnering opportunities, providing inputs and content on the most recent trends.

About European Cancer Cluster Partnering (ECCP)
Since 2009, ECCP – the European Cancer Cluster Partnering has been established as an annual partnering arena for the international oncology community. ECCP offers a vital networking arena and is the direct result of the close collaboration between two of Europe’s strongest cancer clusters, the French Cancer-Bio Santé Cluster and the Norwegian Oslo Cancer Cluster. The key goal of ECCP is building partnerships to accelerate innovation in cancer treatment.

Photo:

5 Oslo Cancer Cluster SMEs granted BIA-funding

The Norwegian Research Council recently granted BerGenBio, PCI Biotech, Lytix Biopharma, Oncoinvent and Ultimovacs –  all Oslo Cancer Cluster member companies – funding  through the Programme for User-Driven Research Based Innovation (BIA).

In total, the Research Council will grant a record amount of 444 million to 58 Norwegian companies over four years, of which 10 are biotech companies – which is also a new record.

BerGenBio, Lytix Biopharma, PCI Biotech, Oncoinvent and Ultimovacs will receive around 10 million NOK each over 4 years, depending on the outcome of the contract negotiations between the council and the company. Funding from the  BIA programme is a quality stamp since the companies compete in “open class” where all sectors are represented. The funding may also in turn trigger interest  from private investors.

On the Research Council`s website you may find the total list of all the 58 companies (in Norwegian) and read more about the funding from the BIA-programme.

Presentations from cancer nanomedicine seminar

Friday January 31 Oslo Cancer Cluster, SINTEF, NTNU, Oslo University Hospital and the Norwegian Cancer Society  invite Norwegian media and other interested parties to join a breakfast seminar on nano cancer medicine.

The seminar is held in conjunction with 12 similair events across the whole of Europe in relation to Nano World Cancer Day. Below you may find the program and presentations at the breakfast meeting.

On the picture above you may see professor Kirsten Sandvig and her group at the Insitiute of Cancer Research. Sandvig was one of the presenters at the press seminar, which was developed in close collaboration with two of her co-workers: Tore Skotland and Tore-Geir Iversen.

 

Pressefrokost om nanokreftmedisin

Tid: Fredag 31. januar 2014 kl 08:15 – 10:30
Sted: Kreftforeningen, Tullins gate 2,Oslo

Kreftforeningen, Oslo Cancer Cluster, Sintef, NTNU og Institutt for Kreftforskning ved Oslo universitetssykehus inviterer til pressefrokost om nanokreftmedisin 31. januar 2014.

Frokosten arrangeres som Norges bidrag inn i det europeiske initiativet ”Nano World Cancer Day 2014” – der 13 land arrangerer tilsvarende pressefrokoster over hele Europa samtidig.

Vi ønsker med dette å gi journalister en kort introduksjon til et spennende område innen moderne kreftbehandling, både fra forsknings og utviklingssiden: Hva skjer når vi kombinerer nanomedisin og kreftmedisin?

Program:
O8:15 – 08:30 – Kaffe og frokost

08:30 – 08:35 – Kreftforeningen innleder ved Generalsekretær Anne Lise Ryel

08:35 – 08:45 – “Hva er nanokreftmedisin?”
Markedsdirektør Ruth Schmid, SINTEF

08:45 – 08:55 – ”Cellegift mot kreft – ‘gammelt’ prinsipp med nye muligheter?”,
Kreftlege og forsker Olav Engebråten, Oslo Universitetssykehus, Avdeling for kreftbehandling.

08:55 – 09:05 – ”Nanopartikler til bruk i kreftbehandling og diagnostikk”
Professor Kirsten Sandvig, Institutt for kreftforskning

09:05 – 09:15: ”Ultralyd forbedrer levering av nanopartikler til kreftsvulster”
Professor Catharina Davies, NTNU

09:15 – 09: 25: ”Lysdirigert levering av nanomedisiner”
Forskningssjef Anders Høgset, PCI Biotech

09:25 – 09:30: Oppsummering fra Forskningsrådet
Avdelingsdirektør Vidar Skagestad

Moderator: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen, kommunikasjonssjef Oslo Cancer Cluster

Links:
www.nanoworldcancerday.eu
www.etp-nanomedicine.eu/public

Trying out life as oncology researchers

Six biology students from Ullern High School were selected to intern at the Department of Tumor Biology at Oslo University Hospital in week 50. This is the fourth time the department has had students from Ullern interning, says researcher Birgit Engesæter. Together with her research colleague Siri Tveito, she is in charge of the students – learning them the tricks and trades of working in an oncology lab.

The day Oslo Cancer Cluster drops by the students are busy looking at melanoma cells: they are measuring the protein levels in cell lysate to later see whether a treatment has been effective or not in inhibiting the growth of the skin cancer cells.

“This is very close to what we do in our daily life here at the department, so the students get a pretty good idea on how it is to be an oncology researcher. The treatment the students are studying today for instance was available on the market only short time ago,” says Engesæter.

 

Highly motivated and very grateful
Thea, Sofie, Marte, Helge, Ildri and Gabriella have divided into three groups and are all highly concentrated on the protocol, checking out with Engesæter occasionally whether they are doing the right thing. All of them have biology, chemistry and mathematics at school, but they have not had so much lab work in biology – a bit more in chemistry.

“The first day they struggle a bit with the equipment, but then they get the feeling with it. In the end of the week they are more or less experts with the pipettes.” says Engesæter.

The six students are highly motivated for their week as oncology researchers, as they have been selected after an internal application round among all the biology students at Ullern. Some of them were even interning at the Norwegian Institute for Public Health and at the Department of Medical Physics, Oslo University Hospital earlier in 2013. Read an article on this here.

“We are so lucky to get this chance to actually come here to the hospital and learn from real researchers and work in the lab. We are very grateful,” say several of the students impulsively, more than once.

But they are not so sure they actually would like to become researchers, due to the tough working conditions. When we ask them what they would like to study, they mention medical school and engineering studies where they earn a profession.

But first they have some days left at the department, learning even more oncology research and presenting a small talk on what they have learnt this week.

 

Educational agreement
The students are interning at the Department of Tumor Biology due to the educational agreement between Oslo Cancer Cluster and Ullern High School. The educational agreement brings into life the common vision Oslo Cancer Cluster an Ullern High School share of educating the researchers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

In 2015 Ullern High School with 900 students will be integrated in the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park currently under construction next to the Norwegian Radium Hospital at Montebello in Oslo.

 


Upcoming activities  in 2014 –
educational agreement between Oslo Cancer Cluster and Ullern High School:


January

14th:
Competence development course for the teachers at Ullern High School as well as other schools in Oslo on nutrition with Kaare Norum, former principal of University of Oslo and one of the Oslo Cancer Clusters initiators.

February

3rd – 5th:
Six chemistry students interning at the Department of Radiation Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital.

10th – 11th:
Gründer Camp -a collaborative project between Novartis, Junior Achievement Young Enterprise, Norway – as well as Oslo Cancer Cluster and Ullern High School, involving 60 biology students. Taking place at the Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital.

10th – 14th:
Six media students interning at Oslo Cancer Cluster, will document the Gründer Camp.

10th – 14th
Six physics students interning at the Department of Medical Physics, Oslo University Hospital.

March – April

Educational Day in Entrepreneurship for approximately 180 students.

April

1st – 4th:
6 biology students interning at the Division of Infectious Disease Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Norwegian Cancer Society initiate investment fund

The newly employed Head of Biotech Investments in The Norwegian Cancer Society, Sigrid Fossheim, has already had several meetings with potential oncology companies to invest in. – We aim to make our first investment before the Summer of 2014, says Fossheim.

The Norwegian Cancer Society is the largest private contributor to cancer research in Norway. Annually the Society grants approximately MNOK 180 to cancer research.

Earlier this year the Norwegian Cancer Society announced they would start investing in early-stage companies and projects within oncology. Head of Biotech Investments Sigrid Fossheim, known from Oslo Cancer Cluster members as Epitarget and Clavis Pharma, has already had meetings with several companies and Tech Transfer Offices (TTO`s), hoping to tap into the available funding of MNOK 75 over five years.
Will make a difference
“We have some specific criterias for our investments of course, but for us the overall goal is to accelerate the development of new therapies and diagnostics for the benefit of the cancer patients. The rule of thumb when we invest is, that we will make a difference, meaning the funding should release the potential of a project and help the company through a critical phase where capital is scarce, says Fossheim

And adds: “A successful investment from our perspective implies that the company for instance has been able to undertake critical and risk reducing project activities rendering it more attractive to larger investors that can further finance the company to project commercialisation and patient benefit.”

As a general rule at least one co-investor should invest in the project or company in collaboration with the Norwegian Cancer Society.

“Having a co-investor is important for us in order to learn the do`s and don’ts of the trade. We have a tight dialogue with all actors in the field, both public and private, including the TTO`s,” says Ole Alexander Opdalshei, Deputy Secretary General.


Hope to inspire others to invest

The news that the Norwegian Cancer Society would start investing was very well received by the oncology community when the initiative was first announced in May this year. For the Society this is an entirely new role, and a very different role than funding cancer research, says Opdalshei.

“For us this is a political statement as well. We hope that through investing, the government and private investors understand that there is a huge need for capital to take oncology research from bench to bedside. We see too few promising projects reach the cancer patients, due to lack of funding in some critical phases. Hopefully our entry onto this scene will inspire others to take the leap – in collaboration with us,” says Opdalshei.

The Society will at the start of the 2014  have meetings with both Innovation Norway and the Norwegian Research Council, addressing the need for more early-stage funding in this area.

“We were very surprised and let down when we got the news that none of the governmental seed capital funds went to biomedicine. This is an area that deserves funding to transform the excellent research to actual patient care, says Opdalshei.

Contact us and set up a meeting
Fossheim encourages oncology start-ups and TTO`s that need funding, to contact her and set up a meeting for a first evaluation.

“If the company or TTO has a promising project that falls within the scope of the Society’s investment mandate, we will encourage the company/TTO to apply for investment funds, following some overall guidelines and providing the necessary documentation. If the evaluation of the company is positive with amongst other the fulfillment of the Society’s investment criterias – an investment proposal will be presented to the Investment Committee for recommendation. The board of the Norwegian Cancer Society will however have the final decision-making authority with regard to investments recommended by the Investment Committee, “says Fossheim.

Flowchart investment process Norwegian Cancer Society.

Facts – Norwegian Cancer Society`s Investments in Oncology:

  • MNOK 75 over a five-year period
  • Early-stage companies/projects
  • Investment criterias at an organizational level:
    1) Unlisted companies
    2) Main business area within oncology
    3) Well –organised and professionally run projects/companies
  • Investment criterias at a project level:
    1) Unique product with high potential for improved cancer care
    2) Unmet medical needs addressed
    3) Patent protection
    4) Competent and experienced team
    5) Proven capability in project execution
    6) Clear and achievable milestone plan
    7) Robust and suitable business model
    8) Low negative, reputation risk
    9) Conformity with the ethical guidelines of the Norwegian Cancer Society

Investment Committee members:

  • Terje Kalland, Chief Scientific Officer, Karolinska Development
  • Hans Peter Bøhn, physician and former healthcare analyst at Fondsfinans
  • Tom Pike, life science industry professional
  • Hilde Steineger, Head of Innovation Management, Pronova Biopharma
  • James Lorens, Professor at University of Bergen and co-founder of BerGenBio


For more information:

Contact Sigrid Fossheim, Head of Biotech Investments, The Norwegian Cancer Society: sigrid.fossheim@kreftforeningen.no /+ 47 982 38 465


About the Norwegian Cancer Society

The Norwegian Cancer Society is a nationwide organization that addresses the challenges of cancer and funding research is its main priority. The Society provides approximately 25 per cent of all direct funding for cancer research in Norway, and is also actively involved in cancer prevention and international collaboration.
The Society’s main goals are s to reduce cancer incidence, increase cancer survival and achieve optimal life quality for cancer patients and their families.
Read more on the Norwegian Cancer Society’s website.

 

Excellent evaluation of Oslo Cancer Cluster

The six year evaluation of Oslo Cancer Cluster as a Norwegian Centre of Expertise concludes that Oslo Cancer Cluster is a strong biotech cluster, well positioned within the global oncology industry. “This plays well with our ambition to take the step up a level and become a Global Centre of Excellence,” says Jónas Einarsson, acting CEO of Oslo Cancer Cluster.

The thorough evaluation report gives a comprehensive picture of the Oslo Cancer Cluster as of today; our projects and plans and also our achievements over the last three years since our first evaluation in 2010. Both evaluations have been done by Oxford Research.

Evaluation of Oslo Cancer Cluster NCE after 6 years.
Evaluation of Oslo Cancer Cluster NCE after 3 years.


Bottlenecks have been identified and reduced

“The evaluation points out that Oslo Cancer Cluster from 2010-2013 have managed to address the challenges for oncology R&D in Norway as well as the weaker points from the first evaluation. We have identified some crucial bottlenecks within clinical trials, and contributed to reduce the pre-clinical development time for oncology start-ups. We have also made it easier for SME`s to attract the capital they need to develop new oncology treatment. This I am very proud of”, says Jónas Einarsson, acting CEO of Oslo Cancer Cluster.

Einarsson continues: “All in all we have received an excellent evaluation. The evaluation concludes that we have untapped innovation potential, and that we need to address this issue in the years to come. This is totally in line with what we plan to do through the work with the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park and the Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.”


Well positioned to become a Global Centre of Expertise

The public cluster program in Norway has until now included two levels; Arena and Norwegian Centre of Expertise. In 2014 a third and higher level, the Global Centre of Expertise (GCE) will be introduced. Only mature clusters with a global position will obtain the elite status as a GCE and probably only 4-5 clusters will be chosen.

“Oslo Cancer Cluster`s ambition is to become one of these 4-5 GCE-clusters. The evaluation shows that we are a global player in the oncology field, and that we have succeeded in establishing an extensive international network that exposes the members for the global oncology industry and secures that recourses like capital and competence are accessible,” says Einarsson.

Einarsson points out that the three years to come will take the cluster a giant step further on the global scale with a targeted focus on innovation: “In 2015 Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park opens and this will become a power centre for oncology R&D. The Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator will make sure that we have new commercialization’s from oncology research. These new start-ups will have better frame work conditions to succeed than ever before. Oslo Cancer Cluster has since the start managed to build a solid fundament. In many ways the cluster has just begun its work.”


Other conclusions from the evaluation:

  • Particularly strong topics within Oslo Cancer Cluster are personalised medicine and immuno-oncology. These are also the buzzwords on the global oncology scene, which makes the cluster well positioned and attractive as a collaborative partner.
  • The cluster have increased the number of members considerably and in parallel developed into a national cluster representing the entire oncology-value chain from bench to bedside.
  • There is now a considerably degree of trust between the members which is based on regular networking and collaboration across disciplines.
  • The strategy work performed during this three-year period have been of good quality and have been embedded in a god way.
  • The feedback from the members on the importance of Oslo Cancer Cluster for their company, institution is to some extent a bit weaker in 2013 than 2010. We take this very seriously and will take action and see how we may perform better here.

 

 

Two Oslo Cancer Cluster Board members receive K.G. Jebsen funding

Despite keen competition from other outstanding medical research groups, Oslo Cancer Cluster Board members Professor Ragnhild A. Lothe and Professor Rolf Bjerkvig have won the competition for funds for new K.G. Jebsen centres in the field of medicine – a long side John-Bjarne Hansen. 


By giving NOK 16 million to each of the three new centres, the Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Foundation wants to give a real boost to research and, not least, to contribute to excellent medical research benefiting patients sooner. In addition to the grants from the Foundation, each centre will also be allocated a substantial sum by its own institutions.

Focus on cancer research
It is worth noting that two of the new centres this year are cancer research centres. The centre at the University of Bergen led by Rolf Bjerkvig works on cancer of the brain, with particular focus on translating research results from laboratories into patient treatment. The centre is a collaboration between several research groups and hospital departments, and it is part of an international research network based in Luxembourg.

Ragnhild Lothe’s centre at Oslo University Hospital aims to develop better diagnostic and treatment methods for rectal cancer, and to help to improve hospital efficiency and benefit patients. Lothe believes that the establishment of a dedicated centre could encourage more young doctors and researchers to take an interest in this serious form of cancer, which is actually the second most common form of cancer in Europe and is currently only survived by around half the patients.

Of the 14 K.G. Jebsen Centres for Medical Research that will have been established in 2014, five work on cancer-related research. In a competition in which the primary criterion is quality, this is an indication that Norwegian cancer research is already at the forefront of the field, also in the international context

The new centre for medical research that is led by John-Bjarne Hansen will work on venous thromboembolism (VTE), which is a generic term for cardiovascular problems that affect almost 10,000 Norwegians every year.

Two of five focused research areas at Oslo University Hospital to cancer
As well as the K.G. Jebsen Centre – Professor Ragnhild Lothe also received one of five “Focused Research Areas at Oslo University Hospital 2014 – 2018”  for the colorectal SMART project.

Her research colleague Arne Kolstad, also received this appointment for his project within Cancer Immunotherapy, where both the Section for Cell Therapy and The Section for Immunology are major partners.

This clearly shows the strength of the cancer research performed at the Oslo University Hospital, when two of five focused research areas that will run in the next four years, goes to cancer.

Read more on this here (only in Norwegian).


Read more:

Ragnhild Lothes group.

Rolf Bjerkvigs group.

Arne Kolstads group.

Facts about the Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Foundation:
The Foundation was established in order to honor the memory of shipping magnate Kristian Gerhard Jebsen and his contribution to Norwegian and international shipping and business. The Foundation was established by Jebsen’s wife Aud Jebsen and the family in 2009.  At the turn of the year 2012/2013, the Foundation’s equity was NOK 916.6 million. Since the Foundation was established, it has awarded a total of NOK 324 million, NOK 274 million of which to Norwegian research. Further information about the foundation is available at the web site: www.stiftkgj.no

 

BerGen Bio develops novel treatment for leukemia

Oslo Cancer Cluster member BerGenBio announce that preclinical studies on the agent BGB324 may be effective as new treatment for patients with drug resistant Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML). The data was presented in a poster at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) early December.

It is estimated that CML accounts for approximately 10% of all new cases of leukemia. The disease originates from malignant stem cells in the bone marrow and ultimately spreads throughout the body developing into a rapidly progressive and almost uniformly fatal acute.

CML is now largely treated with targeted drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), which have led to improved long term survival rates and allow most patients to have a good quality of life when compared to the former chemotherapy drugs. Novartis’ Gleevec (imatinib) and Tasigna (nilotinib), and Bristol Myer Squibb’s Sprycel (dasatinib) are examples of these new targeted drugs.

Effective against drug resistance
However, long term therapy with the new treatment can result in the development of drug resistance and new mutations. BerGenBio’s preclinical in vivo studies shows that BGB324 may be effective as therapy taken alone, in leukemia and solid tumors, and is very effective in preventing and reversing acquired resistance to existing therapies.

The results are based on work conducted by Dr. Sonja Loges’ group at the University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Hamburg: “There is a significant unmet need for novel therapies that can address drug-induced resistant cancers”, comments Dr. Sonja Loges.

“The results of the preclinical studies support our belief that BGB324 could also offer a promising potential new treatment option for chronic myeloid leukemia, especially in patients that are resistant to the current standard of care.”

BerGenBio’s cancer drug BGB324 is the only selective Axl inhibitor in clinical development having recently completed a phase Ia clinical trial. Phase Ib clinical trials are planned in acute myeloid leukemia and non-small cell lung cancer in 2014.

Read the press release on BerGenBio’s website and the abstract in full on the American Society of haematology website.

About the Axl kinase receptor

Axl is a member of the Tyro3, Axl, Mer receptor (TAMR) tyrosine kinase family and is a fundamental receptor to cancer biology. It plays a crucial role in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) which is a key driver of metastasis (cancer spread) and a mechanism of drug-resistance. The Axl receptor is regarded as one of the most promising new therapeutic targets for cancer drug development. BGB324 is a first-in-class, highly selective small molecule inhibitor of the Axl receptor tyrosine kinase.

About BerGenBio AS
BerGenBio AS is a biopharmaceutical company located in Bergen, Norway and member of Oslo Cancer Cluster. The company is committed to developing first in class therapeutics that inhibit EMT, preventing the formation of cancer stem cells and disrupting the important mechanisms of acquired cancer drug resistance. The
company is founded on proprietary platform technology called CellSelect™, which uses information
from RNAi screening studies to identify and validate novel drug targets and biomarkers. BGB324 is
the first compound in BerGenBio’s pipeline to enter clinical trials, with additional compounds and drug
targets at different stages of preclinical development.

Helsemyggordning – financial instrument for health innovation

December 11th 2013, Oslo Cancer Cluster, Oslo Medtech and Nansen Neuroscience Network launched a proposal for a new financing mechanism to stimulate innovation from the health- and biotech industry.

The proposal was very well received among the politicians, industry, public organisations and investors at the debate meeting in conjunction to the launch. Conservative Member of Parliament Kristin Vinje viewed the scheme as an exciting proposition that it is worthwhile to investigate further.

The three health clusters have named the scheme “Helsemyggordning”, building on a similar financial instrument from the oil and gas industry that was established to encourage exploration and development activity among young and small petroleum companies.

To stimulate increased health innovation, the scheme “Helsemyggordning” would involve cash payments of tax deduction related to the cost of development and testing of health products and health technologies innovators who are not liable to tax. When the company gets profits and are liable to tax, they must repay the tax paid for the development and testing costs. The system thus acts as an interest-free capital loans from state to the health innovations.

Acting CEO in Oslo Cancer Cluster, Jónas Einarsson, says the scheme may  trigger the huge potential within Norwegian health R&D. “We are at a critical stage now, as the biotech projects coming out are more mature and in a need for early funding,” says Einarsson.

Menon Business Economics have analysed “Helsemyggordningen”. They conclude that it is easy to administrate, predictable, and targeted.

Please find more in debth information here:

Report on “Helsemyggordningen”

Presentation of Helsemyggordningen, by Erik Jacobsen, Menon Business Economics.

Marketing authorisation for Bayer/Algeta`s prostate cancer treatment

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Bayer HealthCare announced Monday December 9th that they just received the marketing approval for Xofigo® (radium Ra 223 dichloride) by the Norwegian Medicines Agency. The approval came approximatelyone month after the European Commission granted marketing authorization in the EU for Xofigo® on November 15 2013.

Xofigo has been developed by Oslo Cancer Cluster member Algeta. In September 2009 Algeta signed an agreement with Bayer for the further development and commercialization of radium-223. Xofigo is produced in Norway at the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) at Kjeller, just outside Oslo. The production plant opened in June 2013.

Bayer estimates that Xofigo will be available for Norwegian patients during the first months of 2014.

Xofigo was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May 2013 for the treatment of patients with CRPC, symptomatic bone metastases and no known visceral metastatic disease and is now available in the United States at licensed facilities. The approval of Xofigo is based on data from the pivotal Phase III ALSYMPCA (ALpharadin in SYMptomatic Prostate CAncer) trial.

 


Ny radioaktiv behandling utviklet i Norge forlenger livet hos pasienter med prostatakreft med spredning

Statens legemiddelverk har 9. desember godkjent en helt ny type  behandling av kastrasjonsresistent prostatakreft med spredning til skjelettet. Studien som ligger til grunn for godkjenningen, viser livsforlengende effekt og færre uønskede plager med det nye legemidlet Xofigo, sammenlignet med placebo.

Behandlingen skjer ved at radioaktiv stråling med alfapartikler ødelegger kreftcellene i  skjelettet uten å skade vevet rundt. Xofigo er forsket frem i Norge.

Hvert år rammes omtrent 4500 norske menn av prostatakreft, som er den vanligste kreftformen i  Norge. I de aller fleste tilfeller er det det mannlige kjønnshormonet testosteron som gjør at  svulstene vokser og sprer seg videre. Standardbehandlingen på alle stadier av sykdommen er  ofte hormonbehandling for å stanse eller hemme testosteronproduksjonen (kirurgisk eller  medisinsk kastrering).

Når eller hvis hormonbehandlingen ikke lenger gir noen effekt, kalles tilstanden kastrasjonsresistent prostatakreft. Da forekommer spredning til skjelettet i 70 prosent av  alle tilfellene. I Norge oppstår hvert år 700-800 nye tilfeller av spredning til skjelettet som følge av prostatakreft.

Ødelegger kreftcellenes DNA
Det nye legemiddelet Xofigo (radium Ra 223 diklorid) er det første kreftlegemiddelet som avgir  radioaktiv stråling i form av alfapartikler. Alfapartiklene virker innenfor en kort radius. Det gjør at  de dreper kreftcellene effektivt, samtidig som de ikke skader vevet rundt i samme omfang.

Legemiddelet Xofigo injiseres intravenøst og det søker seg så til områdene rundt svulstene i  skjelettet. Alfapartiklene dreper deretter cellene gjennom å forårsake permanente skader på cellenes DNA. Xofigo gis som injeksjon på sykehus en gang hver fjerde uke i seks måneder. Pasienten kan forlate sykehuset etter hver av de seks enkelbehandlingene uten spesielle restriksjoner.

Åtte norske sykehus har deltatt i studien
Den kliniske fase III-studien, ALSYMPCA, som ligger til grunn for godkjenningen av Xofigo, viser  økt levetid på 3,6 måneder for de pasientene som fikk Xofigo i forhold til de som fikk placebo. I  tillegg viser studien færre komplikasjoner fra skjelettmetastaser, som beinbrudd og tverrsnittslammelser hos de patienter som fikk Xofigo.

Åtte norske sykehus deltok i fase 3-studien ALSYMPCA, deriblant de største norske kreftklinikkene.

– Like viktig som overlevelsesgevinsten er etter min menig at radium-223 evner å forsinke komplikasjoner fra skjelettmetastaser. Pasientene vi har behandlet hadde mindre behov for  smertelindrende strålebehandling, færre beinbrudd pga. spredningen og ikke minst færre tverrsnittslammelser, alt sammen hendelser som reduserer livskvaliteten betydelig når de inntreffer. Vi har altså ikke bare sett en overlevelsesgevinst, men en klinisk veldig viktig reduksjon i antall komplikasjoner. Det kan spare pasientene for store lidelser og helsevesenet for betydelige  ressurser som ellers ville bli brukt til å behandle disse, sier Daniel Heinrich, overlege ved  Kreftavdelingen på Akershus Universitetssykehus.

Heinrich har behandlet 52 norske pasienter under studiene som ligger til grunn for godkjennelsen  av middelet, og er en av de legene i verden som har størst erfaring i bruk av Xofigo. I alt har 138 norske pasienter deltatt i studien.

Xofigo ventes tilgjengelig på det norske markedet i løpet av de første månedene av 2014.

MNOK 50 subscribed in Lytix Biopharma

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Lytix Biopharma AS has completed a successful issue that was subscribed shares of over 50 million NOK.

It was signed for in total 71,670 shares at a subscription price of NOK 700 per share. The company will, after the capital increase is registered in the ‘Business Register’, have 207 shareholders. CEO Unni Hjelmaas is delighted with Lytix Biopharma now having secured funding for the implementation of the company’s exciting plans within infection and cancer research through 2014.

“We are pleased with the interest the company has been shown in the challenging capital market”, says the chairman Knut Eidissen.

Lytix Biopharma’s board considers listing the company on the Oslo Stock Exchange, including the optimal time for this, and what type of listing which is most suitable.

Lytix Biopharma includes first patient in cancer study
The company recently started the recruitment of patients in a new clinical study of its cancer drug candidate LTX-315, targeting various kinds of cancerous tumors. The objective of the study is to demonstrate that LTX-315 is safe and activates the patient’s own immune system to kill cancer cells, a treatment called Immunotherapy. Up to 80 patients will be enrolled in the study, which is expected to be completed within 2015.

Lytix Biopharma’s CEO Unni Hjelmaas says, “This is a milestone in the development of the LTX-315. The study will demonstrate if the immunotherapy can be documented in cancer patients. We are pleased that the first patient is recruited at Oslo University Hospital – the Norwegian Radium Hospital”.

This study will include patients with different types of cancerous tumors located just under the skin. Four cancer hospitals in Europe are participating in the study – Oslo University Hospital – the Norwegian Radium Hospital (Norway), Jules Bordet and St. Luc (Belgium) and Guy’s Hospital (UK). The study is approved by the health authorities and ethics committees in the respective countries.

Lytix Biopharma’s cancer drug candidate has the potential to be a novel cancer immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is expected to induce the long-term survival due to the durable immune response. Preclinical data has shown that direct injections of LTX-315 into tumors mobilizes the immune system to kill cancer cells (see the video here) and prevent recurrence of cancer. Immune activation and shrinkage of treated tumors were observed in a first clinical study with LTX-315 in patients.

About Lytix Biopharma
Lytix Biopharma AS develops novel drugs for the treatment of resistant bacterial and fungal infections, as well as first-in-class oncology treatments. The Lytix anti-cancer drug is a mimetic of membrane-active host defence peptides and causes tumor necrosis and release of danger signals leading to an induction of anti-tumour immune responses. Lytix is developing synthetic peptides that take advantage of the characteristics of the innate immune system to produce an entirely new class of cancer therapeutics.

In the issue the following insiders have been allocated shares:
Picasso Kapital AS, controlled by chairman Knut Eidissen, 5760 shares
Steinar Hoeg, Director, 1,200 shares
Unni Hjelmaas, CEO 143 shares

Fazenda Securities has been the advisor and lead facilitator of this issue, and Sparebank1 Market has been co-facilitator.

Photo: Cancer Cell, Gerd Berge, UiT.

Horizon 2020: Major possibilities

Horizon 2020 is the new European Framework Program for Research and Innovation. Oslo Cancer Cluster encourage our members to take a closer look at the possibilities Horizon 2020 represents for funding R&D oncology projects and also taking part in international networks.
Norwegian participation in the EU framework programs has been of critical importance to Norwegian research, enabling Norwegian researchers, research institutions and companies to take part in larger international networks.

The Norwegian Research Council has recently been touring most of Norway hosting information meetings on Horizon 2020. The program will take effect from January 2014 and the budget is of around 70 billion Euros over a seven year period. This is a large increase from the last framework program.


Horizon 2020 incorporates three overall areas of funding – and there is a specific focus on SMEs and also on academic-industry collaboration within the program:

  • Funding for basic research to support curiosity-driven, innovative research and large-scale cooperation on research infrastructure
  • Funding to strengthen industrial leadership and competitiveness with the help of effective industry-oriented funding instruments
  • Funding for research and innovation activities to solve shared societal challenges

Under the topic “Health, demographic change and wellbeing”, there are seven focus areas:
1. Understanding health, ageing & disease
2. Effective health promotion, disease prevention, preparedness and screening
3. Improving diagnosis
4. Innovative treatments and technologies
5. Advancing active and healthy ageing
6. Integrated, sustainable, citizen-centred care
7. Improving health information, data exploitation and providing an evidence base for health policies and regulation

More information may be found here:
The Norwegian Research Council webpage
Draft Work Programs 2014-2015
Newsletter – Program for Health, demographic change and wellbeing

Important deadlines:

  • Horizon 2020 national launch events: October 2013 to January 2014
  • Adoption of work programme and publication of first calls for proposals: December 11 2013
  • Expression of interest: Medio January 2014

 Background material presented by the Research Council on the information meeting in Oslo in November 2013:

Inven2 strike major deal

Inven2 grants exclusive worldwide license to its epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors patent portfolio to Merck. Researchers and clinicians at Sørlandet Hospital have discovered that the EGFR inhibitors may play a vital role as a pain reliever for so called neuropathic pain. This is a potential novel use of the growth factor inhibitor that up until now have been used in cancer treatment, stagging cancer growth.

 

Inven2 AS, the entity commercializing early stage inventions from the largest University and Hospitals in Norway, announced on November 22 2013, that an exclusive worldwide license agreement was signed with Merck for its patent portfolio related to a potential novel use of EGFR inhibitors in the treatment of neuropathic pain.

“We are encouraged with the progress of our ongoing exploratory clinical trials and are excited about further investigating EGFR inhibitors for this use,” says investigator Dr. Christian Kersten at Sørlandet Hospital.

 

One of Norways largest biotech deals
Under the agreement, Inven2 will get an upfront payment from Merck, and potentially receive a total of € 100 million in development milestones depending on the number of EGFR inhibitors being launched. In addition, Merck will pay Inven2 tiered royalties on net worldwide sales. In exchange, Merck will gain exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize the portfolio. This means that this is one of the largest biotech deals ever made in Norway at this point.

“We believe that Merck is an ideal partner for us as they are clearly committed to take the lead position in the EGFR inhibitor drug class segment, and they have a profound knowledge of this area. This agreement validates the high potential the drug class has in new indications driven by their high unmet medical need,” said Ole Kristian Hjelstuen, CEO of Inven2

 

About Inven2 – Oslo Technology Transfer
Inven2 is the technology transfer office for the University of Oslo, Oslo University Hospitals and all hospitals in the South-East region of Norway. Inven2’s mission is to turn excellent science into products mainly in the field of life sciences.

The various institutions together, disclose around 200 unique inventions annually. In 2013, Inven2 is on plan to deliver 60 new patent filings, 35 license agreements, and 5 start-up companies. As of today Inven2 has a portfolio of 27 technology start-ups and a range of licensing agreements with the discovery of the biomarker NT-proBNP (Elecsys “Roche”) as the biggest commercial success at present.

Inven2’s other business area is clinical contract partnerships with the Oslo University Hospital and South-Eastern Health Municipal.

For more information, please visit www.inven2.com

Photo: The team of doctors at Sørlandet Hospital that have discovered the novel use of EGFR inhibitors, together with the life science team from Inven2 securing the deal with Merck.

 

Bayer with marketing approval in EU for Algeta-developed drug

Algeta and Bayer have received marketing authorisation from the European Commission for Xofigo® for the treatment of prostate cancer patients with  bone metastases.

The marketing authorization provides approval for the commercialization of Xofigo in all 28 countries of the EU, and in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein following national approval. This decision follows a positive recommendation from the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) in September of this year.

Major milestone for Algeta

Andrew Kay, Algeta’s President & CEO, said: “Today’s decision by the European Commission to approve Xofigo in the EU is another major milestone achieved for Algeta. It marks the start of what we hope will become an important royalty stream based on Bayer’s ex-US sales, in addition to the 50% share of the profits we expect to receive from the co-promotion of Xofigo in the US. Our partnership with Bayer is proving to be very productive and we are delighted with the progress being made.”

“Prostate cancer is the commonest cancer in men, and often spreads to the bones,” said Christopher Parker, MD, Principal Investigator of the ALSYMPCA trial and Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, and Honorary Reader in Prostate Oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

“Bone metastases lead to pain, fracture and other complications that can significantly impair the patient’s health and well-being. Xofigo targets bone metastases, delivering a localized effect to offer patients prolonged survival, making it an exciting advance in the treatment of this cancer.”

About Xofigo® (radium Ra 223 dichloride)
Xofigo® is an alpha particle-emitting pharmaceutical. Xofigo’s active moiety mimics calcium and selectively targets bone, specifically areas of bone metastases, by forming complexes with the bone mineral hydroxyapatite. The high linear energy transfer of alpha emitters (80 keV/micrometer) leads to a high frequency of double-strand DNA breaks in adjacent tumour cells, resulting in a potent cytotoxic effect.

Additional effects on the tumour microenvironment including osteoblasts and osteoclasts also contribute to the in vivo efficacy. The alpha particle range from Xofigo is less than 100 micrometers (less than 10 cell diameters), which minimizes damage to the surrounding normal tissue.

Xofigo is approved in the US for the treatment of patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer, symptomatic bone metastases and no known visceral metastatic disease.

In September 2009, Algeta signed an agreement with Bayer for the development and commercialization of radium-223. Under the terms of this agreement, Bayer will develop, apply for health authority approvals worldwide and commercialize Xofigo globally. Algeta is eligible for royalties and milestones based on Bayer’s sales of Xofigo outside the US, and Algeta US, LLC is co-promoting Xofigo with Bayer in the US.

About Algeta

Algeta is a company focused on developing, manufacturing and marketing novel targeted therapies for patients with cancer. The Company is headquartered in Oslo, Norway, and has a US subsidiary, Algeta US, LLC, based in Cambridge, MA performing commercial marketing operations in the US. Algeta is listed on the Oslo Stock
Exchange (Ticker: ALGETA). For more information please visit www.algeta.com.

 

Oncoinvent, Lytix and PCI granted funding

Three Oslo Cancer Cluster SME`s emerged as the winners of the Immuno-Oncology Innovation Call. Oncoinvent was as a clear number one of the 10 applications received.

For the first time Oslo Cancer Cluster had the opportunity to grant funding to collaborative innovation projects under the NCE Program’s “Innovasjonsrammen”. Oncoinvent, Lytix Biopharma and PCI Biotech submitted the three winning proposals that have been selected among a total of 10 relevant and interesting projects.

A clear favorite
Oncoinvent applied for funding to evaluate the therapeutic potential as well as possible side effects of a new drug candidate (OI-3 antibody) in preclinical studies. The application emerged as a very clear favorite among the expert panel; and the Oncoinvent team will receive NOK 500.000 to move this forward.

The expert panel consisted of the following: Hans Peter Bøhn from Fondsfinans, Anders Sundan from NTNU, Steinar Funderud from Oslo University Hospital, Radium Hospital and Ole Johan Borge from Innovation Norway.

The expert panel ranked Lytix Biopharma’s and PCI Biotech’s project as number 2 and 3 and proposed to fund these with NOK 250.000 each. The Board of Oslo Cancer Cluster fully agreed with the experts in the Board meeting on October 29 2013. Innovation Norway will enter negotiations with the three winning teams so that the projects can start during this year.

Innovation potential
Tina B. Bønsdorff, CEO of Oncoinvent was very glad to hear about the outcome: “We are very pleased and honoured that Oncoinvent’s project is the first choice of the nomination committee. This will have a significant impact on the activity of our company in 2013-2014.”

Also CEO of Lytix Biopharma Unni Hjelmaas expressed her joy: “This is a very positive surprise indeed. This grant will definitively contribute to realizing the project.”

Oslo Cancer Cluster will now follow up this pilot funding scheme with Innovation Norway and the NCE Program.

“The number of quality of applications received in this call indicates clearly the innovation potential within the cluster. We hope that the NCE Program and Innovation Norway will further evolve this important novel funding scheme,” says Jutta Heix, International Advisor of Oslo Cancer Cluster and Project Coordinator for the Norwegian Immuno-Oncology Consortium.

About the funded projects:

Oncoinvent project:
The project shall evaluate the therapeutic potential as well as possible side effects of a new drug candidate: OI-3 antibody through pre clinical studies. The project shall also secure a better and broader IPR for the drug candidate.

Lytix Biopharma project:
The project shall identify and explore immunological factors that are present before treatment with Lytix`anti-cancer product LTX-315.The project would also like to explore the potential side effects and toxicity of LTX-315 in the liver.

PCI Biotech project:
The project seeks to generate new IPR for the use of Photochemical Internalisation (PCI) within immune therapy and vaccination. The project also aims to demonstrate that the technology may be used to elevate the cytotoxic T-cell response in vitro and in vivo when applied within immune therapy.

 

 

 

Norwegian Cancer Society grant MNOK 160

The 2013 year’s grant to cancer research in Norway, 160 million NOK (EUR 20 M) is the largest grant the Norwegian Cancer Society has ever given.

“It is fantastic that we are able to provide such a large amount to our top cancer researchers in Norway”, says Secretary-General Anne Lise Ryel, Norwegian Cancer Society. “This is made possible thanks to our big and small, but always generous donors and members”.

The money will be divided among 121 projects at 12 research institutions across the country. The three institutions that will receive the most are: Oslo University Hospital (MNOK 73), the University of Oslo (MNOK 35) and the University of Bergen (MNOK 24). Download a full overview over the projects here (in Norwegian).

Enables quality boost
For Oslo Cancer Cluster member NTNU, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the grants constitute a significant contribution to the university’s cancer research: “The money enables us to boost the quality of our research”, says Dean Stig Slørdahl from the Faculty of Medicine. “It was a great joy to receive this funding, especially when we know that only the best projects receives funding.”

One of the cancer researchers at NTNU that got funding for here project is Bodil Merete Kavli, whom you can read more about in the Cancer Society’s blog. She’s trying to find out which mechanisms inside the cells causes the development of lymphoma cancer. Thanks to the award from the Cancer Society, Kavli is now able to finance a four year research position.

About The Norwegian Cancer Society
The society is the largest non-government sponsor of independent cancer research in Norway. Over the last 10 years the Norwegian Cancer society  has granted 1.6 billion NOK (EUR 2bn) to cancer research. This represents over 25 prosent of total resources Norwegian researchers have at their disposal for their research. Read more here: www.kreftforeningen.no

Pucture: Cancer researcher Bodil Merete Kavli at NTNU, surprised by the Cancer Society and Norwegian Television. Photo: Arild Domaas, NCS

Pleased with the political platform

The new government of Norway has launched their political platform. Oslo Cancer Cluster have reviewed the political platform document. We are overall very pleased with the initiatives that concerns research, knowledge, education, business and R&D.

Jónas Einarsson, acting director of Oslo Cancer Cluster says “There are a lot of initiatives in this political platform from Høyre and Fremskrittspartiet which is directly in line with Oslo Cancer Cluster`s strategy and areas we have been working on for a long time. Some of these are crucial for building a strong biotech industry in Norway at the same time as we take care of the cancer patients and develop the cancer treatments of tomorrow.”

These are some of the plans we highly agree with:

  • Norway should become one of the most innovative countries in Europe
  • More funds to industry R&D and innovation
  • Use industry clusters as an innovation tool – by especially strengthen the Norwegian Centres of Expertise (NCE-program) and start up Global Centres of Expertise.
  • More resources to governmental seed capital funds
  • Secure more funding to clinical trials as well as increase the number of patients participating in clinical trials
  • Develop an activity plan for the national strategy for cancer

Here you may download the polticial plattform from Høyre and Fremskrittspartiet.

Investinor and Industrifonden invest in Pharmalink

Oslo Cancer Cluster was the proud host of a press conference in early October, where two of the Nordic region’s largest governmental venture investors Investinor and Industrifonden announced their NOK million 90 investment in Swedish biotech Pharmalink. Pharmalink is a specialty pharma company focused on orphan and niche products within cancer and renal disease.

The press conference was hosted by Oslo Cancer Cluster due to Pharmalinks future plans of joining the cluster and becoming a part of the strong oncology environment in Oslo.

Jónas Einarsson, acting director of Oslo Cancer Cluster states “I am very glad to hear that Pharmalink would like to join Oslo Cancer Cluster and I welcome them to be a part of our strong member organization. I am also very happy for the collaboration between Investionor and Industrifonden within biotech, and hope for more co-investments in the close future.”

This is the second co-investment Investionor and Industrifonden have made in collaboration, the first one was also in biothech: Norwegian company Smartfish that produce nutraceuticals for cancer patients among others.

In the picture from the press conference you see from the left Investment director from Investinor og member of the board of Pharmalink Ann-Tove Kongsnes, CEO of Investinor Geir Ove Kjesbu, CEO of Industrifonden Claes De Neergaard and CEO of Pharmalink Johan Häggblad. Photo: Anne-Elisabeth Næss.

Below the facts you may read the press releases from both Investionor (In Norwegian) and Pharmalink (In English) on the investment:

Facts:

About Pharmalink
Pharmalink is a Swedish specialty pharma company developing high value products for niche indications. Pharmalink draws on its extensive experience of pharmaceutical development and marketing to identify and progress products that address significant unmet medical needs. With a successful history in pharmaceutical sales and marketing, and highly experienced, dynamic management team, Pharmalink is focused on the development and commercialization of valuable, de-risked projects. It has two late-stage clinical phase products under development, Nefecon® and Busulipo™. Pharmalink is actively seeking opportunities to acquire or in-licence product opportunities in niche and hospital care indications. Visit www.pharmalink.se for further information.

About Industrifonden
Industrifonden is one of Sweden’s largest and most experienced investors at early stage and in growth companies and manages an evergreen fund of approximately 3.5 billion (EUR420m). It has for the last 30 years had a leading role in the development of Swedish life science companies. Founded by the Swedish government in 1979, Industrifonden is an independent venture capital fund that operates on a strictly commercial basis and receives no further government funding. Revenues are returned to the business for new investments. See more info at: www.industrifonden.se

About Investinor
Investinor is Norway’s largest investor in venture and expansion capital, and manages a NOK4.2 billion (EUR525m) evergreen fund. Investinor was founded in 2008 and is funded by the Norwegian government. It invests directly in promising unlisted companies and on the same terms and conditions as private investors, with a clear exit strategy for all investments.
Find more info on: www.investinor.no

Life Tech & Novartis to develop immunetherapy against leukemia

Life Technologies Corporation has signed a long-term supply and exclusive licensing agreement with Novartis for immunotherapeutics involving T cells modified to express chimeric antigen receptors for the treatment of cancer. Both Novartis and Life Technologies are member of Oslo Cancer Cluster.

Life Technologies (former Dynal) will provide the company’s proprietary technology, Dynabeads® CD3/CD28 CTS™, which possess unique biological properties suited to production of active, therapeutically relevant immune system cells. The agreement includes rights to use Life Technologies’ intellectual property to perform the resulting therapy, and is exclusive for use in the field of chimeric antigen receptors for the treatment of cancer.

“The collaboration with Novartis highlights the distinct capabilities that Life Technologies can provide in the therapeutic realm,” said Greg Lucier, chairman and chief executive officer of Life Technologies. “Taken with our previous announcements of companion diagnostic collaborations, the current agreement demonstrates how Life is uniquely positioned to facilitate drug development through alliances with pharma.” Chimeric antigen receptor T cell based immunotherapy constitutes a novel, individualized method of combating cancers.

Immunotherapeutic treatment of child leukemia
Novartis is working to commercialize technology developed at the University of Pennsylvania that has demonstrated startling efficacy in research studies. In two 2011 publications University of Pennsylvania researchers described application of immunotherapy in three patients, all of whom experienced durable complete or partial remission of their cancers within three to four weeks of treatment. A 2013 publication in the New England Journal of Medicine described complete responses with one ongoing in two children with leukemia.

The personalized therapy consists of removing blood cells from cancer patients; isolating and activating T cells; genetically modifying the T cells thereby programming those cells to recognize and attack cancer cells; expanding the T cells; and, lastly, introducing those cells back into the body so the patient’s immune system can take over. Under the terms of the current agreement, Life Technologies’ Dynabeads® CD3/CD28 CTS™, will be used to isolate, activate and expand the T cells.

“Dynabeads ® CD3/CD28 CTS™ have unique properties that are ideal for producing a robust immunotherapeutic,” said Oystein Aamellem, head of Cellular Medicine at Life Technologies. “Not only do the beads assure that T cells are separated from any unwanted cells, it also triggers the T cells to reproduce in a natural and controlled manner, ensuring a therapeutically relevant population is transferred back into the patient.”

Read an article about one of these children featured in the New York Times here.

 

 

Logo Ockham Oncology

Fully integrated oncology partner

Now in its fourth year as a member of the Oslo Cancer Cluster, Ockham Oncology unveils its stronger global oncology expertise, as a fully integrated, pure oncology-focused international partner.

Operating at full strength following a 2012 merger with U.S.-based Ockham Oncology, the combined company is continuing to strengthen its partnerships within the Oslo Cancer  Cluster by focusing on Ockham’s long-term, successful clinical record of managing hundreds of oncology clinical trials in all phases of cancer-drug development worldwide

Ockham Oncology’s Chief Scientific Officer Clare Wareing, Ph. D., who founded Nexus Oncology, said the new stronger company is the only pure oncology CRO operating around the globe. “We have been a successful partner with many members of the Oslo Cancer Cluster over the years,” Dr. Wareing said. “We look forward to future relationships as a result of our increased global capability and the addition of a specialist oncology biometrics team under the Ockham Oncology identity.”

Dr. Wareing said the company’s track record of working on complex, early phase studies will be attractive to OCC members. “We remain purely oncology focused,” Dr. Wareing said. “It’s my passion and I have dedicated my career to oncology,” she added. “As we have grown, Ockham has attracted specialized personnel who are highly respected in their own field. As Ockham Oncology, we have enhanced our global capability and retained the specialist oncology expertise to manage more innovative and complex studies,” Dr. Wareing noted.

Dr. Wareing said the R&D meetings bring together a blend of outstanding speakers and great science. “We look forward to engaging our partners as we expand our operations in Norway,” she added. The Ockham and Nexus combination, completed in January 2012, created the largest privately held oncology CRO in the world. The merger brought together talented oncology researchers as well as well-known success in biometric analysis and data management.

Dr. Wareing addressed the new company and its expertise during an interview with PharmaTV.  Click here to view the interview. During the Pharma Television interview, Dr. Wareing highlights global strengths of the fully integrated company. The video, “Ockham Oncology’s CSO highlights global strength of fully integrated company,” is about 10 minutes in length.

Since 1986, Ockham Oncology has conducted hundreds of oncology trials across all phases of development, including pre-clinical preparation, to bring innovative oncology therapies to the market. Through the 2009 acquisition, the Ockham CRO strengthened its oncology expertise. Following a second acquisition in 2012, Ockham enhanced its reputation as an oncology CRO as well as its global footprint.

About Ockham:
Launched in 1986, Ockham is a global oncology CRO and full-spectrum global resourcing company. Clinical expertise, therapeutic focus, and successful oncology trial outcomes have created an industry leadership position for Ockham Oncology. Ockham Source continues to achieve sustained success by offering traditional sourcing solutions as well as a growing FSP (Functional Service Provider). Ockham’s world headquarters is based in Cary, North Carolina, with the European headquarters located in Roslin, Scotland, near Edinburgh. Ockham offices are located strategically around the world to serve global customers.

 

National Cancer Drugs Fund

Oslo Cancer Cluster, the Norwegian Cancer Society and the Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Norway join forces in pushing for a new cancer drugs fund. The purpose of the fund is to ensure equal and quicker access to new approved cancer drugs in Norway.

 

A cancer drugs fund would cover the costs of new cancer drugs for public hospitals over a period of two to three years, and would ensure that cancer patients in Norway are given equal and quicker access to new cancer drugs. The fund provides an opportunity to generate Norwegian data regarding the effects of cancer drugs and obtain experience of their use in Norwegian hospitals. This would give the pharmaceuticals authorities a good basis for evaluating the value of each drug and give time for a thorough assessment of whether we want to start using it in Norwegian hospitals.


Equal and quicker access

There are two pressing reasons why such a cancer drugs fund should be established:
Firstly, it will ensure that the same cancer treatments will be available all over Norway. This is not the case today. Secondly, a national cancer drugs fund will ensure that new cancer drugs are taken into use immediately after being approved by the Norwegian Medicines Agency and recommended by expert groups, regardless of health economics and bureaucratic processes.


We want this now because:

Growing knowledge about cancer and cancer treatment results in new medical advances being made all the time. The Norwegian funding scheme for cancer drugs has proven to be poorly equipped to deal with the continuous development and innovation in this area, for two main reasons: Firstly, drugs are funded over the hospitals’ operating budgets, which means that expensive new cancer drugs are not followed up by fresh money in the hospital budgets. Secondly, the Norwegian health authorities often take a long time to consider whether to introduce new drugs in the treatment guidelines, even after a drug has been thoroughly assessed and approved for use by international and Norwegian pharmaceuticals authorities and recommended by oncology expert milieus.

 

In Norwegian:

Oslo Cancer Cluster, Kreftforeningen og Legemiddelindiustriforeningen går sammen inn for et kreftmedisinfond.  Formålet med fondet er å sikre lik og raskere tilgang til nye, godkjente kreftmedisiner i Norge.

Et kreftmedisinfond vil gi offentlige sykehus kostnadsdekning for nye kreftmedisiner over en to-  til tre-års periode og vil sikre kreftpasienter i Norge lik og raskere tilgang til ny kreftmedisin. Fondet gir mulighet til å generere norske data for effekt og samle erfaring fra bruken av legemiddelet ved norske sykehus. Dette vil gi legemiddelmyndighetene gode forutsetninger til å evaluere verdien av hvert enkelt legemiddel og gi tid til en grundig vurdering av om vi ønsker å ta det i bruk på norske sykehus.

Lik tilgang og raskere tilgang
Det er to svært presserende grunner til at et slikt kreftmedisinfond bør komme på plass:
For det første vil dette samme kreftbehandling over hele landet. Det er ikke realiteten i dag. For det andre vil et nasjonalt kreftmedisinfond sikrer at nye kreftmedisiner tas i bruk umiddelbart etter godkjenning fra Legemiddelverket og anbefaling fra faggruppene, uavhengig av helseøkonomiske og byråkratiske prosesser.

Bakgrunnen for at vi ønsker dette nå:
Økende kunnskap om kreft og kreftbehandling, fører til stadig nye medisinske fremskritt. Det norske finansieringssystemet for kreftmedisiner har vist seg lite egnet til å håndtere den kontinuerlige utviklingen og nyvinningene innen dette området, basert på to sentrale problemstillinger: For det første er finansieringen av legemidlene lagt til sykehusenes driftsbudsjetter, det innebærer at nye og kostbare kreftmedisiner ikke følges opp med nye penger på sykehusbudsjettene. For det andre bruker norske helsemyndigheter ofte lang tid på å vurdere om nye medisiner skal få en plass i behandlingsretningslinjene, selv etter at medikamentet er grundig vurdert og godkjent for bruk av internasjonale og norske legemiddelmyndigheter og anbefales av de onkologiske fagmiljøene.