Smartfish with clinical study results

A new clinical study indicates that medical nutrition can improve overall survival in lung cancer patients. 

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Smartfish AS presented the results from a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial in the beginning of September. It evaluated one of the company’s medical nutrition products in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (the most common type of lung cancer) suffering from cachexia.


Cachexia is a complex wasting syndrome, known to have a negative impact on clinical outcomes in patients with cancer and several other chronic diseases.


It is characterised by an ongoing loss of muscle and weight, that eventually can kill the patient.


The results show that the nutrition has a favorable safety profile and indicate a number of positive effects on clinical outcome, for instance that the patients who received the nutrition experienced numerically fewer adverse events from their chemotherapy treatments than the comparator group.

The clinical study

In the pilot study, lung cancer patients who received the nutrition while being pre-cachectic had a statistically significant higher survival after 12 months from baseline compared to the comparator group. 56 patients from 16 clinical sites in Sweden, Italy, Slovakia and Croatia were randomized to receive either Smartfish’s medical nutrition product or a milk-based isocaloric drink.

“This study shows the potential of Remune as an important enhancer of standard cancer care and clinical data like this helps to build awareness of what targeted medical nutrition can do for patients. We are encouraged to continue our research and development to ensure that the best possible nutrition is delivered to the patients who need it.” Geir Harstad, CEO of Smartfish

The medical nutrition product that was tested is called Remune, and is a juice-based drink produced with a proprietary emulsion technology containing unique high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D and whey protein.

The study was recently published online in the journal Nutrition and Cancer and can be read following this link: “Safety and Tolerability of Targeted Medical Nutrition for Cachexia in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Pilot Trial” .

About Smartfish AS

Smartfish AS is active in the research, development, production and marketing of advanced and clinically documented nutritional drinks within medical nutrition and sports nutrition. All Smartfish products are produced on its proprietary juice-based emulsion technology platform with the marine DHA and EPA fatty acids as important ingredients. Smartfish has a number of ongoing clinical development projects and studies in close collaboration with researchers and institutions both in Norway and internationally. The company was founded in 2001 and is located in Oslo, Norway and Lund, Sweden. Smartfish’s main shareholders are Investinor (Norway) and Industrifonden (Sweden). For more information, visit www.smartfishnutrition.com

For more information about the study and the company, please contact Jens Nordahl, VP Sales & Marketing, tel +47 996 299 99.

The company’s press release can be read as a PDF in this link.

Meet our new members

Oslo Cancer Cluster proudly presents the new members that have joined our organisation during the second quarter of 2019.

The new members represent a valuable addition to our non-profit member organisation, which encompasses the whole oncology value chain. By being a part of Oslo Cancer Cluster, our members are connected to a global network with many relevant key players in the cancer research field. Our members contribute to this unique ecosystem and ensure the development of innovative cancer treatments to improve patients’ lives.

 

theradex logo

 

Theradex Oncology

Theradex Oncology provides global clinical development services exclusively to companies developing new cancer treatments. The company has a strong emphasis on early drug development. It provides regulatory and medical support for companies taking cancer treatments into clinical development in the US and Europe.

Theradex Oncology staff has participated in educational events at Oslo Cancer Cluster for a number of years. This is how they became familiar with the cluster.

“Oslo Cancer Cluster provides a unique opportunity to share knowledge with other professionals dedicated to developing new cancer treatments.” Meg Valnoski, President Theradex Oncology

Meg Valnoski explains how the company has been supporting the development of cancer treatments for over 30 years and experienced the advancements in cancer treatments over that time.

 “We are always working to expand our knowledge and experience in cancer drug development to support our partnerships with companies developing new therapies for cancer treatment.”

Catapult Life Science

Catapult Life Science is a centre established to bridge the gap between the lab and the industry, providing infrastructure, equipment and expertise for product development and industrialisation in Norway. It has been formed as a result of joint efforts from a range of different players with a common goal of enabling more industrialisation of life science research in Norway, truly what the Norwegians call a dugnad.

“We see Oslo Cancer Cluster as a key partner for realising our purpose, which is to create new opportunities for product development and industrialisation in Norway.” Astrid Hilde Myrset, CEO Catapult Life Science

Myrset adds:

“Our vision is ‘Bringing science to life’, which implies enabling new ideas to a be developed in Norway for new employment in the pharma industry, new growth in the Norwegian economy, and last but not least, new products to the market, enabling a longer and healthier life for patients.”

 

This post is part of a series of articles, which will introduce the new members of our organisation every three months.

  • To find out who else is involved in Oslo Cancer Cluster, view the full list of members
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SINTEF to develop methods in immuno-oncology

SINTEF and Catapult Life Science are looking for new partners to develop methodology for cancer immunotherapy.

“We want to develop methods within immunotherapy, because this is currently the most successful strategy for improving cancer treatments and one of the main directions in modern medicine,” says Einar Sulheim, Research Scientist at SINTEF.

The Norwegian research organization SINTEF is an Oslo Cancer Cluster member with extensive knowledge in characterisation, analysis, drug discovery and development of conventional drugs.

The new project on methodology for cancer immunotherapy recently started in April 2019 and is a collaboration with Catapult Life Science, a new Oslo Cancer Cluster member. The aim is to help academic groups and companies develop their immunotherapy drug candidates and ideas.

Help cancer patients

Ultimately, the main aim is of course that the project will benefit cancer patients. Immunotherapy has shown to both increase life expectancy and create long term survivors in patient groups with very poor prognosis.

“We hope that this project can help streamline the development and production of immunotherapeutic drugs and help cancer patients by helping drug candidates through the stages before clinical trials.” Einar Sulheim, Research Scientist at SINTEF

 

Develop methodology

The project is a SINTEF initiative spending NOK 12,5 million from 2019 to 2023. SINTEF wants to develop methodology and adapt technology in high throughput screening to help develop products for cancer immunotherapy. This will include in vitro high throughput screening of drug effect in both primary cells and cell lines, animal models, pathology, and production of therapeutic cells and antibodies.

 

High throughput screening is the use of robotic liquid handling systems (automatic pipettes) to perform experiments. This makes it possible not only to handle small volumes and sample sizes with precision, but also to run wide screens with thousands of wells where drug combinations and concentrations can be tested in a variety of cells.

 

The Cell Lab at SINTEF. Photo: Thor Nielsen / SINTEF

The Cell Lab at SINTEF. Photo: Thor Nielsen / SINTEF

 

Bridging the gap

Catapult Life Science is a centre established to bridge the gap between the lab and the industry by providing infrastructure, equipment and expertise for product development and industrialisation in Norway. Their aim is to stimulate growth in the Norwegian economy by enabling a profitable health industry.

“In this project, our role will be to assess the industrial relevance of the new technologies developed, for instance by evaluating analytical methods used for various phases of drug development.” Astrid Hilde Myrset, CEO Catapult Life Science

A new product could for example be produced for testing in clinical studies according to regulatory requirements at Catapult, once the centre achieves its manufacturing license next year.

“If a new method is intended for use in quality control of a new regulatory drug, Catapult’s role can be to validate the method according to the regulatory requirements” Myrset adds. 

SINTEF and Catapult Life Science are now looking for partners.

Looking for new partners

Einar Sulheim sums up the ideal partners for this project:

“We are interested in partners developing cancer immunotherapies that see challenges in their experimental setups in terms of magnitude, standardization or facilities. Through this project, SINTEF can contribute with internal funding to develop methods that suit their purpose.”

 

Interested in this project?

Meet our new members

Oslo Cancer Cluster proudly presents the new members that have joined our organisation during the first quarter of 2019.

 

The new members represent a valuable addition to our non-profit member organisation, which encompasses the whole oncology value chain. By being a part of Oslo Cancer Cluster, our members are connected to a global network with many relevant key players in the cancer research field. Our members contribute to this unique ecosystem and ensure the development of innovative cancer treatments to improve patients’ lives.

 

HalioDx

HalioDx is an immuno-oncology diagnostic company providing immune-based services, which guide cancer care and contribute to precision medicine. HalioDx executes biomarker studies and develop diagnostic devices, in accordance with regulations and in partnership with biopharmaceutical companies. By being a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster, HalioDx can collaborate with academia and industry to deliver clinical research and diagnostic tools that help find the right therapy for the right patient.

“Immuno-oncology and precision medicine are two main focuses of interest for Oslo Cancer Cluster and this is the reason why HalioDx decided to become a part of Oslo Cancer Cluster.” 

“We are convinced that this collaboration will be of mutual benefit and we hope that HalioDx’s comprehensive clinical research platform will represent a great tool for the academic and pharma members who would like to better understand drugs mechanisms of action and identify the right patients for the right therapy.”
Aurélie Fugon, Associate Director, HalioDx

 

 

 

MultiplexDX

MultiplexDX is a biotech corporation with the aim to eliminate misdiagnosis of cancer disease. The company’s idea is to create 100% reliable, quantitative, affordable and personalised diagnostic tests. By combining tissue visualisation and sequencing technologies, they can accurately quantify 7 or more cancer markers, generating a specific “barcode”. This unique barcode can then specify the type of cancer and suggests which personalised treatment and medicines to be used, and how long the therapy should last.

“We believe that Oslo Cancer Cluster is the best cancer cluster in the world representing the entire oncology value chain that we want to be part of.” Pavol Cekan, CEO, MultiplexDX

“We plan to create strategic partnerships with Oslo Cancer Cluster members to bring our breast cancer diagnostic test, Multiplex9+, to the market as soon as possible. In assistance with Oslo Cancer Cluster and its members, we want the breast cancer patients to benefit from our 100% accurate, reliable and diagnostic test at the earliest convenience.” 

 

Sanofi (Norway)

Sanofi is a global pharmaceutical company and one of their main areas of treatment concerns oncology. Every year, they invest 15% of their revenue into research and development. They do phase I, II and III clinical trials to get new medicines approved for treatment. They want to remain innovative, because they believe that the research they perform today will contribute to preventing and treating diseases in the future.

“Sanofi has a long legacy with R&D in oncology. In the years to come oncology and hematology will be one of the biggest therapeutic areas at Sanofi.

“By becoming a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster we believe that we are able to contribute to unlocking tomorrow’s science by supporting the latest advances in treating cancer in Norway and beyond.” Britt Moe, General Manager, Sanofi (Norway)

“This is especially interesting since in the treatment of cancer, new mechanisms of actions and developments, such as immune-oncology therapies, are very much in the focus.” 


Thommessen

Established in 1856, Thommessen is a leading commercial law firm with offices in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger and London. The firm provides advice to Norwegian and international companies as well as organisations in the public and private sectors, ranging from start-ups, via small and medium size companies to large multi-national corporations. Thommessen covers all business related fields of law.

“We believe that early identification of potential legal issues before they arise is important.” Mirella Gullaksen, Head of Projects and Business Development, Thommessen

“Investing in early phase biotech/oncology companies should be about the relevant team, technology and product breakthrough. All other risks relating to the company, and investments should be reduced to a minimum”. 

 

  • This post is the first in a series of articles, which will introduce the new members of our organisation every three months.
  • Follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our newsletter to always stay up to date!
  • To find out who else is involved in Oslo Cancer Cluster, view the full list of members.

 

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Encouraging news from BerGenBio

A second group of patients have been added to an ongoing phase II clinical study of a drug combination to treat lung cancer.

 

The ongoing trial is a collaborative effort between two members of Oslo Cancer Cluster: Norwegian biopharmaceutical company BerGenBio and US-based pharmaceutical company Merck (known as MSD in Europe). It involves an kinase inhibitor called bemcentinib, developed by BerGenBio, in combination with an immunotherapy drug called Keytruda (also known as pembrolizumab) from MSD.

 

“Throughout 2018, we reported encouraging updates from our ongoing proof-of-concept phase II clinical trial assessing bemcentinib in combination with Keytruda in advanced lung cancer patients post chemotherapy.”
Richard Godfrey, Chief Executive Officer, BerGenBio

 

The second group will involve patients that have been treated with immunotherapy before, but that have experienced a progression of the disease. There are various treatments available for patients with non-small cell lung cancer, but patients often acquire resistance to treatment. New treatments that can overcome these resistance mechanisms are therefore urgently needed.

 

“I am pleased that we are now extending the ongoing trial to test our hypothesis also in patients showing disease progression on checkpoint inhibitors.”
Richard Godfrey, Chief Executive Officer, BerGenBio

 

The aim is to evaluate the anti-tumour activity of this new drug combination. Preliminary results from the second patient group of the study are expected later this year. BerGenBio is in parallel also developing diagnostic tools to see which patients are most likely to benefit from their drug.

 

The decision to extend the trial was based on new positive results from pre-clinical studies, which were presented at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) earlier this week. The results open for the possibility to use bemcentinib both as a monotherapy and in combination with other cancer treatments on a broad spectrum of cancers.

 

 

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Oslo, Norway, 26.04.2017. Photographs from Oslo Cancer Cluster (OCC), an oncology research and industry cluster dedicated to improving the lives of cancer patients by accelerating the development of new cancer diagnostics and medicines. Photographs by Christopher Olssøn

Natural killer cells dressed to kill cancer cells

New research: A new study may potentially enable scientists to provide cancer immunotherapy that is cheaper, faster and more manageable.

New work by researchers with laboratories at Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator may help to dramatically improve a T cell-based immunotherapy approach so that it can benefit many more patients.

 

T cell assassins

T cells are the professional killers of the immune system – they have a unique capability to specifically recognize ‘foreign’ material, such as infected cells or cancer cells. This highly specific recognition is achieved through receptors on the surface of T cells, named T cell receptors (TCRs). Once its receptor recognizes foreign material, a T cell becomes activated and triggers the killing of the infected or cancerous cell.

T cell receptors (TCRs): receptors on the surface of T cells, that recognize foreign material and activate the T cell. This triggers the killing of the infected or cancerous cell by the T cell.

 

Adoptive cell therapy 

Unfortunately, many cancers have adapted fiendish ways to avoid recognition and killing by T cells. To combat this issue, an immunotherapy approach known as adoptive cell therapy (ACT) has been developed in recent years. One such ACT approach is based on the injection of modified (or ‘re-directed’) T cells into patients. The approach is further explained in the illustration below.

 

Illustration from the research paper ‘NK cells specifically TCR-dressed to kill cancer cells’.

 

The left side of the illustration shows how redirected T-cell therapy involves:

1) Harvesting T cells from a cancer patient

2) Genetic manipulation of T cells to make them express an ideal receptor for recognizing the patient’s cancer cells

3) Growing T cells in culture to produce high cell numbers

4) Treating patients with large quantities of redirected T cells, which will now recognize and kill cancer cells more effectively

 

An alternative approach 

Adoptive T cell therapy has delivered very encouraging results for some cancer patients, but its application on a larger scale has been limited by the time consuming and costly nature of this approach. In addition, the quality of T cells isolated from patients who have already been through multiple rounds of therapy can sometimes be poor.

Researchers have long searched for a more automated form of adoptive cell therapy that would facilitate faster and more cost-effective T cell-based cancer immunotherapy.

One approach that has seen some success involves the use of different immune cells called Natural Killer cells – NK cells in brief.

Despite their great potential, NK cells have unfortunately not yet been proven to provide a successful alternative to standard T cell-based cancer immunotherapy. One major reason for this may be that, because NK cells do not possess T cell receptors, they are not very effective at specifically detecting and killing cancer cells.

NK cell lines: Natural Killer cells (NK cells) have the ability to recognise and kill infected or cancerous cells. Scientists have been able to manipulate human NK cells so that they grow without restriction in the lab. This is called a cell line. It enables a continuous and unlimited source of NK cells that could be used to treat cancer patients.

 

Cells dressed to kill

The group led by Dr. Sébastien Wälchli and Dr. Else Marit Inderberg at the Department of Cellular Therapy aimed to address this issue and improve NK cell-based therapies.

They reasoned that by editing NK cells to display anti-cancer TCRs on their cell surface they could combine the practical benefits of NK cells with the potent cancer killing capabilities of T cells. This is shown in the right hand side of the illustration above.

The researchers found that by simply switching on the production of a protein complex called CD3, which associates with the TCR and is required for T cell activation, they could indeed induce NK cells to display active TCRs. These ‘TCR-NK cells’ acted just like normal T cells, including their ability to form functional connections to cancer cells and subsequently mount an appropriate T cell-like response to kill cancer cells.

This was a surprising and important finding, as it was not previously known that NK cells could accommodate TCR signaling.

This video shows TCR-NK cell-mediated killing of cancer cells in culture. The tumour cells are marked in green. Tumour cells that start dying become blue. The overlapping colours show dead tumour cells.

 

The researchers went on to show that TCR-NK cells not only targeted isolated cancer cells, but also whole tumours.

The method was proven to be effective in preclinical studies of human colorectal cancer cells in the lab and in an animal model.  This demonstrates its potential as an effective new form of cancer immunotherapy.

 

Paving the way

Lead researcher Dr. Nadia Mensali said:

“These findings pave the way to the development of a less expensive, ready-to-use universal TCR-based cell therapy. By producing an expansive ‘biobank’ of TCR-NK cells that detect common mutations found in human cancers, doctors could select suitable TCR-NK cells for each patient and apply them rapidly to treatment regimens”.

Whilst further studies are needed to confirm the suitability of TCR-NK cells for widespread treatment of cancer patients, the researchers hope that these findings will be the first step on the road towards off-the-shelf immunotherapy drugs.

 

  • Read the whole research paper at Science Direct. The paper is called “NK cells specifically TCR-dressed to kill cancer cells”.
  • The researchers behind the publication consists of Nadia Mensali, Pierre Dillard, Michael Hebeisen, Susanne Lorenz, Theodossis Theodossiou, Marit Renée Myhre, Anne Fåne, Gustav Gaudernack, Gunnar Kvalheim, June Helen Myklebust, Else Marit Inderberg, Sébastien Wälchli.
  • Read more about research from this research group in this article from January.
  • Read more about Natural Killer cells in this Wikipedia article.

 

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Doctor examining the birthmark of a female patient

Promising start for expansion group of Targovax clinical trial

Targovax, one of the members of Oslo Cancer Cluster, has begun an expansion patient group in the clinical trial of a drug to treat skin cancer.

The company Targovax is developing immune activators to target solid tumours that are difficult to treat. The drug in question, called ONCOS-102, is aimed at patients with malignant melanoma (skin cancer) who have either been through chemotherapy, biological therapy or surgery and experienced a recurrence or progression of the cancer.

 

How does it work?

The immune activators work by activating the patient’s own immune system to attack the cancer cells. The drug that is now being tested is a genetically modified oncolytic adenovirus, a type of virus that has been designed to infect in the cancer cells and then replicate.

 

Initial positive results

Targovax, a member of the Oslo Cancer Cluster, are developing a treatment for skin cancer.

In September 2018, the first six patients had been treated with 3 injections of the drug and all of them showed a strong activation of their immune systems – one patient even had a complete response. The results suggested that the patients could benefit from more injections of the drug.

“The results seen to date with only three injections of ONCOS-102 are promising, and we are confident that by increasing to twelve injections we will release the full potential of ONCOS-102 to reactivate these patients to respond to Keytruda treatment,” said Magnus Jäderberg, CMO of Targovax.

 

Expansion patient group

On 11 February 2019, the first patient in the expansion group of the phase I trial was injected with ONCOS-102. The patient will be treated in combination with pembrolizumab, also known as Keytruda, an immunotherapy drug that works as an immune checkpoint inhibitor. This means that the drug involves antibodies, which “unlock” the protective mechanisms of the cancer cells so the immune system then can destroy them.

 

For more information, read the full press release from Targovax.

Raphael Lømo, Foto: Fullscreen Visuals

Why a logistics company joined the cluster

Kuehne + Nagel joined Oslo Cancer Cluster last year. Why did a logistics company join a cluster dedicated to cancer treatment?

 

Kuehne + Nagel is one of the world’s leading logistics providers, and pharmaceuticals are certainly a category of product that requires special care when moved between locations.

This is an interview with Raphael Lømo, the National Manager for Pharma & Healthcare Development Logistics for Kuehne + Nagel in Norway.

 

“Why did you join a cluster dedicated to cancer treatment?”

“Being one of the leading logistics companies in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, we realized that a membership in Oslo Cancer Cluster is beneficial for both the other members and us. The members get access to an international good distribution practice (GDP)-compliant pharmaceutical logistics network and professional support within the pharmaceutical supply chain. At the same time, Kuehne + Nagel gets linked to the currently leading and possible future players in the oncology field, which will help us to increase our understanding and to proactively try to design solutions for the members in this industry. Members can focus on their core competences which is in the R&D field while we offer to take care of the distribution challenges, which is our core competence. Kuehne + Nagel’s membership linked our industries and completed your oncology value chain.”

We are also very interested in working with start-up companies which are supported by Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator. It is inspiring to be involved in interesting and innovative projects and at the same time it helps us to keep the finger on the pulse of the pharmaceutical industry. It would not be the first time that we successfully accompanied a start-up by offering pharmaceutical specific supply chain counselling and consulting services.”

Last but not least, it feels really good to contribute to improve the lives of often very sick cancer patients, which we have been doing for many years in the prostate cancer field. We can identify ourselves with your vision to help patients by accelerating the development of cancer treatments.” Raphael Lømo

 

“What does logistics innovation have to do with cancer medicine?”

“Well, based on our experience, cancer medicines are often extremely urgent, temperature sensitive and sometimes even classified as dangerous goods shipments, e.g. radioactive. This combination makes it quite challenging to design safe solutions and both visibility, risk control, and reliable handling are the most important factors to protect the integrity of cancer medicines. We constantly work on innovative solutions to improve the level of control of these factors, such as new IT systems and Internet of Things (IoT) real-time tracking devices. ”

Part of Kuehne + Nagel’s solution for safe logistics. Photo: Kuehne + Nagel

Part of Kuehne + Nagel’s solution for safe logistics. Photo: Kuehne + Nagel

 

“I understand that there are some “pharma shipment enemies” in the logistics industry: Temperature, time, handling and dangerous goods. What is your solution to these challenges in shipping pharmaceuticals?”

“Most importantly, you need a reliable logistics partner which understands the full scope of GDP and the challenges of shipping pharmaceuticals globally. Due to our close relationship to all major airlines, ground handlings agents, and trucking companies, in extreme cases we can customize solutions for very sensitive shipments. Such solutions will be complimented with state of the art tracking technology which transmits both location and other relevant data in real-time to KN Login, our data and IT solution that provides visibility and control of your shipment. There you can follow your shipments 24/7/365. Moreover, a team of trained pharmaceutical logistics specialists can monitor your shipment and provide status updates if required. In case of any deviation of the shipment plan, this global service desk can proactively take action to get your shipment back on track. Our award winning KN PharmaChain solution is the basis for every challenge in the pharmaceutical supply chain industry.”

“We have a vast database that includes the most important information and capabilities of major airlines and ground handling agents at the most important airports around the world. This is a unique database and provides very valuable information in order to plan shipments and conduct Lane Risk Assessments. As an example, with one click we know the capacity for storing pharmaceuticals at certain temperature ranges at warehouses of different airlines and airports all over the world. This tool helps us to analyses shipment processes and mitigate potential risks.”

 

“Do you have any advice to companies looking to send fragile drugs or other pharmaceuticals?” 

“Look for a reliable and experienced logistics partner with a global “owned” network which fully understands the requirements of shipping fragile pharmaceuticals but also follows the Good Distribution Practice (GDP), not only in Norway but globally. We highly recommend to conduct a GDP audit before working with a potential logistics partner. Norwegian logistics companies are not audited by the Norwegian Medicines Authorities and often do not understand and follow the full scope of the GDP guideline. Keep in mind that it is in the responsibility of the pharmaceutical company and not the logistics company that the products are transported under GDP compliant conditions.”

 

About the company

Kuehne+Nagel is listed on the Swiss stock exchange, but the majority is still owned by Mr. Klaus-Michael Kuehne.

Since 1890, when the business was founded in Bremen, Germany, by August Kuehne and Friedrich Nagel, Kuehne + Nagel has grown into one of the world’s leading logistics providers.

Today, the Kuehne + Nagel Group has some 1,300 offices in over 100 countries, with around 79,000 employees.

The company specialises in seafreight, airfreight, contract logistics and overland businesses, with a clear focus on high value-added segments such as IT-based integrated logistics solutions.

KN PharmaChain is Kuehne+Nagel’s supply chain innovation for pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments.

Photo of Richard Stratford and Trevor Clancy in OncoImmunity.

Machine-learning for immunotherapy

A prestigious EU-grant will advance OncoImmunity’s machine-learning approach to develop personalized cancer immunotherapy.

The bioinformatics company OncoImmunity AS is empowering cancer immunotherapy with artificial intelligence. They use innovative software solutions to guide the discovery of neoantigen-based personalized immunotherapies and biomarkers. What does this really mean?

It means that the software they have developed helps to identify neoantigens, also known as immunogenic mutations, in a patient’s cancer cells. Cancer cells deceive the immune system by looking like healthy cells. But they still express cancer-specific markers, known as neoantigens. (See facts box for explanation.)

 

Enables personalized medicine

The interesting part about neoantigens, is that every patient’s tumor expresses a unique combination. This enables truly personalized medicine to be applied, if the correct neoantigens are selected from the thousands of possible candidates in the genome of a tumor. Researchers using this technology can now solve this “needle in the haystack” challenge by analyzing a tumor genome to figure out the right cocktail of neoantigens, for each individual patient, and design a specific vaccine or cell therapy uniquely designed just for them.

Such personalized immunotherapy can for instance boost the immune system’s response by making the immune system better able to recognize and target the patient’s unique cancer cells.

 

Faster bespoke treatment

OncoImmunity’s flagship software, the ImmuneProfiler™, is a unique machine learning solution that makes it easier to instantaneously see and accurately select which neoantigens will be responsive in each patient.

It thereby helps biotech companies design neoantigen-based personalized cancer vaccines and cell therapies and enables bespoke treatments to be developed faster. Additionally, the technology allows clinical researchers to select which patients will likely respond to the wide range of cancer immunotherapies currently under development in the field.

In that sense, the OncoImmunity-approach to cancer treatment is exactly in line with Oslo Cancer Cluster’s main goal: to speed up the development of new cancer treatments for the benefit of cancer patients.

 

Prestigious EU-grant

Horizon 2020’s SME Instrument is a grant that is tailored for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). It targets innovative businesses with international ambitions — such as OncoImmunity.

The SME Instrument has two application phases. Phase one awards the winning company 50 000 Euros based on an innovative project idea. Phase two is the actual implementation of the main project. In this phase, the applicant may receive between 1 and 2,5 million Euros.

Oncoimmunity won the phase one project last year. Then, the founders of the bioinformatics company were happy about the opportunity to refine and optimize their machine-learning framework. Their goal has always been to facilitate personalized cancer vaccine design.

 

Fantastic funding

Now, they have won a considerably larger grant of 2,2 Million Euros that they are going to use to fund a project titled Machine-learning Engine for the Design of personalized Vaccines in Cancer (MEDIVAC).

The SME Instrument grant provides OncoImmunity the opportunity to further customise their machine-learning framework, called the ImmuneProfiler™,for specific vaccine platforms, facilitating the design of safer and more efficacious personalised cancer vaccines.

— We applied for the SME instrument grant as it represents a fantastic funding vehicle for cutting edge, innovative projects with huge commercial potential. The call matched our ambition to position OncoImmunity as the leading supplier of neoantigen identification software in the personalised cancer vaccine market, says Dr. Richard Stratford, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of OncoImmunity.

— This opportunity will also help us establish the requisite quality assurance systems, certifications, and clinical validation with our partners, to get our software approved as a medical device in both the EU and US, says Dr. Trevor Clancy, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-founder of OncoImmunity.

 

SMEs can apply

The SME Instrument is looking for high growth- and highly innovative SMEs with global ambitions. They are developing innovative technologies that have the potential to disrupt the established value networks and existing markets.

Companies applying for the SME Instrument must meet the requirements set by the programme. Please see the SME Instrument website for more information in English or the SME Instrument webpage of Innovation Norway for more information in Norwegian.

Curious about which companies have received the SME Instrument so far? Have look at this database with an overview of all the grant receiving companies in Europe.

Want to know which Norwegian companies received grants from The European Unions research programme Horizon2020 in 2018? Read this article from Innovation Norway (in Norwegian).

Oslo Cancer Cluster  supports members via the EU Advisor Program in collaboration with Innovayt, making them aware of relevant EU- and H2020 funding opportunities and helping them to identify the right calls for their development phase and goals. Oslo Cancer Cluster also assists with partner searches using national and international networks and provides direct support during the grant writing and submission process.

 

The start-up company Kongsberg Beam Technology wants to direct the precision technology from smart missiles to hit tumours in the human body. — We want to use Norwegian spearhead technology to combat cancer, Per Håvard Kleven said during his pitch at the DNB Nordic Healthcare Conference 11 December 2018. 

Industrial precision against cancer 

Kongsberg Beam Technology wants to direct the precision technology from advanced industrial control systems to hit tumors in the human body.

— We want to use Norwegian spearhead technology to combat cancer, Per Håvard Kleven said from the stage as he pitched the idea of his start-up at the DNB Nordic Healthcare Conference 2018.

He is the founder of the start-up company Kongsberg Beam Technology AS. As he wrote the patent application for the technology behind this start-up, he was far from the only one to explore this field. Nevertheless, the patent was granted earlier this year (2018). He was ahead of companies like Siemens and other giants.

— There is a lot of research going into radiation and all of it is focusing on increased precision, but no one is attacking the problem as fundamentally as we are.

 

Precision proton radiation

The method in question is proton radiation. This kind of radiation is directed towards a tumour and radiates far more precisely than x-ray radiation, the standard radiotherapy that hospitals currently use to treat cancer.

Proton radiation requires special machines. There are currently only 85 of these machines, known as proton  therapy synchrocyclotrones, in the world. Norway awaits its first proton synchrocyclotron in a couple of years. The existence of such a machine in Norway is a precondition for the business plan of Kongsberg Beam Technology.

This is one of the few proton therapy machines in use in the world today. It is the proton therapy synchrocyclotron in the Jacobson Building at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. Photo: Jonathunder/ Wikimedia Commons

The ambition of Kleven and his new board of directors is to let proton radiation follow the movements of the tumour, meaning the smallest movements of the patient as she breathes. This does not seem like much, but there is actually a lot of movement in for instance the lungs. And with vital organs closely linked to the lungs, such as the heart and the spine, it is extremely important to have a precise beam.

There is in deed a need for more precision in radiation therapy.

— The radiation that the hospitals use to treat cancer today is not precise. Healthy tissue is always damaged with radiation and this is a problem which we are attacking.

 

Norwegian spearhead technology

The system in question is to figure out exactly where the tumour is situated in the body, how it moves and how much radioactive energy it takes to radiate it properly.

He wants to take the principals and methods currently used in precision industries such as defence, space and oil- and gas, and apply these to radiation in cancer treatments. The aim is to obtain industrial precision to avoid damaging any healthy tissue.

 

Aims to develop a solution

The mechanical part of the system makes it possible to do online tracking of the cancer and synchronise the beam so that it always hits exactly on the cancer. This might not sound like it should be too difficult, but indeed it is.

— We cannot control a beam of particles with the agility and precision that is required today, but these functions will develop. We aim to develop them!

– In five years, when our project makes proton radiation reach its potential for industrial precision, my assumption is that proton radiation will take a much higher share of radio therapy in cancer treatment and that the number of proton centres will increase steeply.

According to Kleven, the testing will start soon, followed by prototyping and further testing and qualification. The goal is to have a working system by mid 2024. Kleven assumes that the future product can be installed as an add-on to exciting proton therapy synchrocyclotrones.

— Testing and remaining R&D will start as soon as the needed capital is in place, he said.

 

Needs more funding

The financing for the start-up so far is covered by Buskerud county, Innovation Norway, Oslofjordfondet and the Research Council of Norway. Kongsberg Beam Technology needs 93 million NOK initially, to test, develop and qualify the technology. 60 million of this sum should come from investors.

Kleven shows an estimate of a one billion NOK turn-over after a few years, in a profitable company with growth possibilities.

The new business is going to be established in Kongsberg in Norway, a town that is already well established as a hub for spin offs of the Norwegian defence industry. Kleven himself has a lifetime of experience from this sector, since he started to work in Kongsberg Weapons Factory (Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk) in 1975.

Days to partner up

Roche is looking for new partners in the innovative Norwegian life science scene. 

Roche is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world with about 800 ongoing clinical trials. Within cancer research and development, this translates into about 500 clinical trials for many different types of cancer. Roche is a member in Oslo Cancer Cluster. 

Read more about Roche’s cancer research

As a part of Roche’s scouting for new innovative collaborations, the company arranged two partnering days in the beginning of December together with Oslo Cancer Cluster and the health cluster Norway Health Tech. Together, we welcomed start-ups, biotechs, academic researchers, clinicians, politicians, innovation agencies, students and other interested parties to a two day open meeting.

Partnering with companies 
The first day was at the at Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park and the second day was at Oslo Science Park.

Growing life sciences in Norway is important to Oslo Cancer Cluster, and the larger pharmaceutical companies’ commitment to working with local stakeholders and local companies is an essential part of the innovative developments in this field.

Such collaborations have the potential to bring more investment to Norway and provide platforms for local companies to innovate, thrive and grow. 

— What we want to do is to strengthen the collaborations and to see even more companies emerge from the exciting research going on in academia in Norway, said Jutta Heix, Head of International Affairs at Oslo Cancer Cluster. 

Partnering with academia
Professor Johanna Olweus from the Institute for Cancer Research at Oslo University Hospital was one of the speakers. She also presented the Department of Immunology and K.G. Jebsen Center for Cancer Immunotherapy for a full auditorium at Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park. 

Established back in 1954, the Institute for Cancer Research at Oslo University Hospital is certainly a well established institute and their Department of Immunology is currently involved in all the clinical trial phases.

— The scientists at the institute realise the importance of collaborating with the industry in order to get results out to the patients, Olweus said, and showed some examples of scientist-led innovations from the institute, including the Department of Cancer Immunology.  

In this story, you can read more about how science from Oslo University Hospital is turning into innovation that truly helps cancer patients.

– An idea needs to attract investors

Meet Thomas Andersson, our new Senior Advisor Business Development. How could he be of help to your startup company? 

— The most important thing I do is to get the startup companies rolling.

Thomas Andersson, the new Senior Advisor for Business Development at Oslo Cancer Cluster and Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, looks dead serious as he makes this statement, but immediately after he lets out a smile and elaborates:

— A company needs to be investible. An idea needs to attract investors.

A lifetime of experience
Thomas holds a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Lund University in Sweden and has more than 30 years of experience from establishing, operating and funding start-ups in the life science field. He has a long background in business development in health tech startups, all the way back to the early 1980s.

— I’m that old! I went straight from my Ph.D. in biophysics into the problem-solving of business development.

In his career he has also taken on issues with patents and sales and he even bought a company that produced monoclonal antibodies with some friends and remodelled and sold it. 

— What did you learn from this journey? 

— I learned quite a lot, including the production business and the cell cultivation biotech business from the floor. I also learned how to lay out the production manufacturing facility.

See it like an investor
Thomas Andersson knows the biotech startup-scene from the investors’ point of view. He started to work at the tech transfer office of Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. It was called Karolinska Innovations back then, now it is known as KI Innovations.

— We raised a lot of money there, formed 45 companies as a group and we had a fantastic time! 

After 8 years he was recruited to Lund and worked in Lund University Bio Science and tried to vacuum clean the whole university for life science innovation.

— And we did find a lot! In the end there were about 20 investment proposals and those ended up in 9 investments, of which we turned down 5 or 6. Two of them are now at the stock market. 

In total, Thomas Andersson has been involved in starting about 20 companies, of which 5 survived and are now on the stock market.

Normally, it is said that only 1 in 30 biotech startups make it. 

 

Thomas Andersson, Senior Advisor Business Development. Photo: Oslo Cancer Cluster

Here for you
— How did you end up here at Oslo Cancer Cluster?  

— I have had my eyes on Oslo Cancer Cluster for a while. I have liked the ideas that the cluster stands for. And I wanted to do something new in the end of my career. That is why I am here as a senior advisor now. I like it here! I am working on very interesting projects and ideas.

Our new Senior Advisor Business Development is present in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator nearly every week although he still lives in Lund, Sweden, on a farm in the woods where he can be practical and hands-on with hardwood and fly fishing.

— My door is open to people in the cluster and incubator with projects and ideas. I have a network that can help them and I have the experience of how investors, scientists and other actors can value a company. And being a Swede in the Norwegian system; I am basically here also to encourage you to think differently.

 

Interested in more funding opportunities for your company?

Check out our Access to Capital-page. 

 

T-cells and the Nobel Price

What does the Nobel Prize have to do with cancer research in Oslo Cancer Cluster?

This year the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine was awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer. This was a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options.

A statement from the Nobel committee hailed the accomplishments of Allison and Honjo as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.”

This principle, the idea behind much of the immunotherapy we see developing today, is shared by several of our Oslo Cancer Cluster members, including Oslo University Hospital and the biotech start-up Zelluna.

– This year’s Nobel Price winners have contributed to giving new forms of immunotherapy treatments to patients, resulting in improved treatments to cancer types that previously had poor treatment alternatives, especially in combination with other cancer therapies, said doctor Else Marit Inderberg as a comment to the price.

She leads the immunomonitoring unit of the Department of Cellular Therapy at Oslo University Hospital. The unit is present in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator with a translational research lab.

Inderberg has been studying and working with T-cells since 1999, first within allergies and astma, before she was drawn to cancer research and new cancer therapies in 2001.

So, what is a T-cell?
T-cells have the capacity to kill cancer cells. These T-cells are a subtype of white blood cells and play a central role in cell-mediated immunity. They are deployed to fight infections and cancer, but malignant cells can elude them by taking advantage of a switch – a molecule – on the T-cell called an immune checkpoint. Cancer cells can lock onto those checkpoints, crippling the T-cells and preventing them from fighting the disease.

The drugs based on the work of Nobel Prize winners Allison and Honjo belong to a class called checkpoint inhibitors – the same immune checkpoint that we find on T-cells. Drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors can physically block the checkpoint, which frees the immune system to attack the cancer.

Group leaders Else Marit Inderberg and Sébastien Wälchli often work in one of the cell labs in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator. Photo: Christopher Olssøn

 

– We work on other ways of activating the immune system, but in several clinical trials we combine cancer vaccines or other therapies with the immune-modulating antibody, the checkpoint inhibitors, which the Nobel Price winners developed, Inderberg explained.

Inderberg and her team of researchers in the translational research lab in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator use the results from the Nobel Price winners’ research in their own research in order to develop their own therapy and learn more about the mechanisms behind the immune cells’ attack on the cancer cells and the cancer cells’ defence against the immune system.

– This Nobel Prize is very inspiring for the entire field and it contributes to making this kind of research more visible, Else Marit Inderberg added.

– Our challenge now is to make new forms of cancer therapies available for a large number of patients and find ways to identify patient groups who can truly benefit from new therapies – and not patients who will not benefit. Immunotherapy also has some side effects, and it is important that we keep working on these aspects of the therapy as well.

From research to company
Most of the activity of the translational research lab in Oslo relies on the use of a database of patient samples called the biobank. This specific biobank represents an inestimable source of information about the patients’ response to immunological treatments over the years. Furthermore, the patient material can be reanalysed and therapeutic molecules isolated. This is the basis of the Oslo Cancer Cluster member start-up company Zelluna.

 

Want to know more about Zelluna and the research they are spun out of?

This is a story about their beginning.

Curious about new research from the Department of Cellular Therapy in Oslo?

More on their webpage.

 

Prestigious partnership for Vaccibody

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Vaccibody is entering into a clinical collaboration with the American biopharmaceutical company Nektar Therapeutics.

The aim of the collaboration is to explore positive effects from the combination of Vaccibody’s personalized cancer vaccine VB10.NEO and Nektar Therapeutics cancer drug NKTR-214. Pre-clinical results of the combination are very positive and the collaboration will mark the start of a clinical trial stage.

The clinical trials will include patients with head and neck cancer and initially involve 10 patients.

What is Nektar?
Nektar Therapeutics is not just any company when it comes to immunotherapy. At Nasdaq their market value is set as high as 10 billion dollars.

– For a year now, Nektar might be the most talked about company within immunotherapy and this winter they landed the largest deal of its kind with Bristol Meyers-Squibb (BMS), says Agnete Fredriksen, President and Chief Scientific Officer, in an interview with Norwegian newspaper Finansavisen.

Help more patients
BMS and Nektar started collaborating on the development of the immunotherapy drug NKTR-214, the same drug that is part of the collaboration with Vaccibody, with a potential worth of 3.6 billion dollars.

– That they want to work with us is a nice validation of Vaccibody and makes us able to help even more cancer patients. We hope the combination of our products will lead to even better treatments, Agnete Fredriksen says to Finansavisen.

More about Vaccibody’s cancer vaccine

Nektar and Vaccibody each will maintain ownership of their own compounds in the clinical collaboration, and the two companies will jointly own clinical data that relate to the combination of their respective technologies. Under the terms of the agreement and following the completion of the pilot study, the two companies will evaluate if they will take the partnership to the next stage.

American tech and Norwegian health data

Combining country scale population data with world class computer systems and algorithms will push the boundaries of precision medicine.

This is a story about the unique American-Norwegian collaboration that combines the best health data with the most powerful computers in a pioneer project run by Cancer Registry of Norway and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Data to screen cancer 
The ongoing project was initiated after a talk on tech between the General Manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster and a Senior Scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Some months later, in San Francisco, a meeting room was filled with some of the world’s best minds on cancer and technology. The Norwegians knew cancer and the Americans knew computing. The outcome was unknown. 

They identified a concrete challenge. Can we see patterns in data to screen cancer more precisely?

The quest resulted in a successful cooperation between Lawrence Livermore and the Cancer Registry in January 2016 where a team from the Cancer Registry started the first project on cervical cancer. If successful, they would potentially identify and screen high risk patients earlier and leave the low risk patients unburdened. 

Now there are two ongoing projects, one on cervical cancer and one on multitask learning for cancer. The goal is to make predictions more accurate and improve precision medicine. 

– If successful we can potentially identify and screen high risk earlier and leave the low risk unburdened. The individual and social impact of such a strategy is significant. This may be the reason why Joe Biden mentioned details from this project at a UN Assembly last year, Widerberg said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden led the American cancer initiative known as the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel. Two years ago, when the collaborative project between Norway and the USA had just started, the Blue Ribbon Panel released a report describing ten transformative research recommendations for achieving the Cancer Moonshot’s ambitious goal of making a decade’s worth of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in just 5 years.

One of the ten recommendations was to expand use of proven cancer prevention and early detection strategies.

The major research questions
– One of the major research questions right now is How do we design the optimal screening programs? Another is how to actually take advantage of the registry data that we have, said Giske Ursin, Director of the Cancer Registry of Norway.

In Norway, and similarly in the other Nordic countries, we have registries on various diseases, pregnancy/births, vaccinations, work history/unemployment, income and much more. We have data sets dating from the 1950s. That is unique in the world. 

– If you look at enough data, you can find interesting links that can be explored in the clinical world or elsewhere. For instance; how do other diseases affect cancer diseases? We need international expertise to cover areas we are not experts on ourselves, she said, showing a picture of one of the super computers at Lawrence Livermore.

Cancer and national security
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory and part of the U.S Department of Energy. The laboratory has over 5000 employees, of which at least half are engineers and researchers.

– We have the mandate from the government to push the forefront on subjects like bio security. Precision medicine is alined with the bio security mission, but it is even more relevant to the super computing research mandate. What are the next types of problems that will move this forward? Biomedical data complexity. That is why we are in this, Ana Paula de Oliveira Sales from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said in her presentation. 

Some ingredients of the project on cervical cancer is to improve cancer outcome prediction by combining disparate cancer types. The preliminary results are encouraging.

 

Break down barriers
John-Arne Røttingen, CEO of the Research Council of Norway, gave a talk on how collaborations between the Nordic countries and other countries are important for population based clinical research and health research.

– Personalized medicine is full of promise and we want to contribute to this progress, but we cannot do this only with our data. We have to collaborate with other countries and with different fields of research, he said.

One important country in that respect is of course the USA.

Kenneth J. Braithwaite, U.S Ambassador to Norway, talked about the opportunities with the Norwegian databases in a meeting in the Oslo Cancer Cluster innovation park 20 September 2018.

— I have learned the past few years that data is king, and we need to wrap our arms around this. I think there is a responsibility from the governments to begin to break down the barriers and truly find a cure to cancer. That’s what we are up against, said U.S. Ambassador to Norway Kenneth J. Braithwaite, who is Rear Admiral of United States Navy (Retired).

— As we say in the Navy, full speed ahead!

Ultimovacs acquires Immuneed

The Norwegian biotech company Ultimovacs acquires the immunotherapy technology business of the Swedish company Immuneed AB. 

The complementary technologies of the two companies provide a unique platform for development of novel vaccine solutions for treatment and possibly prevention of cancer.

The acquired business has been named Ultimovacs AB and is now a fully-owned Swedish subsidiary of  Oslo Cancer Cluster member Ultimovacs AS. The business is located in Uppsala and has two employees.

— In Ultimovacs, we have been looking for an adjuvant technology that can further improve cancer vaccines. Simultaneously, Immuneed has been searching for a peptide based vaccine platform for further testing of their technology. This is a perfect match, says Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen, CEO of Ultimovacs, in a press release.

Bought for NOK 50.4 million
The purchase price of the technology business of Immuneed AB was NOK 50.4 million, corresponding to SEK 54.5 million, which was paid partly in cash and partly in shares in Ultimovacs AS. Following the transaction, Immuneed AB holds 5.4% of the shares in Ultimovacs AS.

Ultimovacs is a Norwegian pharmaceutical company developing novel immunotherapies against cancer. The lead product candidate is a peptide-based vaccine inducing a specific T cell response against the universal cancer antigen telomerase. This vaccine is called UV1 and is currently in clinical testing in the US.

Read more about the technology of Ultimovacs.

Immuneed has developed technology named the TET-platform™ that can complement the cancer vaccine under development by Ultimovacs. The TET-platform™ addresses the general challenge of so called “adjuvants” that enhance the desired response of the immune system to a vaccine. It makes it possible to incorporate adjuvant and the vaccine itself into one molecule.

When using the technology from Immuneed, the antibodies formed by a previous vaccine can function as adjuvant for a new vaccine. This principle is general and can be applied as an adjuvant for many different vaccines. The principle and the technology have been successfully validated in different pre-clinical models.

Read more about the merger in the press release issued by Ultimovacs.

PCI Biotech with new research collaboration

PCI Biotech is initiating a scientific collaboration with Bavarian Nordic to boost their cancer treatment technology.

Oslo Cancer Cluster member PCI Biotech has announced that it is initiating a preclinical research collaboration with Bavarian Nordic, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical corporation focused on developing state-of-the-art cancer immunotherapies and vaccines for infectious diseases.

The two collaborators will be exploring synergies between their two technologies to further enhance the effect of treatments of cancer and infectious diseases.

Exploring possibilities
In brief, the collaborators will evaluate technology compatibility and synergy based on in vivo studies. The companies will evaluate results achieved from this research collaboration and then explore the potential for a further partnership.

CEO of PCI Biotech Per Walday says this regarding this fresh collaboration:

— I’m very pleased to announce another research agreement with a key player within the field of immunotherapies, which is the second collaboration initiated this year. We believe that the PCI technology has the potential to play a role in the realization of several new therapeutic treatments, and we look forward to exploring synergies with Bavarian Nordic’s unique and innovative technologies

Get to know our new chairman

CEO of Ultimovacs Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen is the new chairman of Oslo Cancer Cluster. Get to know the guy!

An Oslo born family man who likes the outdoors, and took the jump from hospital work to entrepreneurship by the way of the health industry.  Remarkably, before all this he dazzled the audience at the National Theatre beside such greats as actor Per Aabel.

Tell us about your professional background!

– I started studying medicine in Oslo. Close to my graduation I got involved in a large meningococcal vaccine trial involving 170 000 people at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. It was my first involvement with clinical trials. I found the work both fun and rewarding and learned a lot from all the follow-up the trial demanded.

Internship in Lofoten
An internship as a Physician in Lofoten in the north of Norway followed. It culminated in a position as municipal medical officer in Flakstad municipality in Lofoten and at the surgery department in Lofoten (then Gravdal) Hospital.

– A position I held for six years. I now moved back to Oslo and took up a position as clinical trial manager in Astra (before Astra and Zeneca merged) were I among other things was responsible for a large clinical trial on beta blockers in heart failure. After that I decided to work as a clinician again and started at AHUS as an orthopedic surgeon and moved on to Ullevål University Hospital.

– Part of my job was to be an investigator in several clinical trials documenting efficacy and safety of new oral anticoagulants and improved procedures in orthopedic surgery. My last position as a clinician was as consultant surgeon at the Ullevål pediatric orthopedic department.

After many years as a clinician Kongstun Arnesen took the jump into the health industry.

– My first job was Medical Director in Bristol-Myers Squibb. One of my tasks was to discuss participation in one of the first trials with ipilimumab (a cancer drug with the trade name Yervoy) at the Radium Hospital. There I was also introduced to professor Gustav Gaudernack and his work with a cancer vaccine. Now, this history has made a full circle where I now am working with a combination of an improved version of this vaccine – and ipilimumab.

First employee of Ultimovacs
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) closed their office in Oslo, and Arnesen moved to the German company Boehringer Ingelheim. First as Medical Director for Norway and later as Head of Clinical Operations Nordic.

– I stayed there until 2012 when I became the first employee of Ultimovacs.

Read more about Ultimovacs

– I also think we were the first to move into Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator. I remember we had to store all the belongings in the garage because they were still finishing our office space.

How do you think your CV can be beneficial for you as chairman?

– I know Oslo Cancer Cluster very well as a member. And from different types of organizations: As a clinician, as a start-up, as part of a pharmaceutical company. I have been through collaboration with many of the other members and have a good overview of the organization.

How will you combine your work as CEO at Ultimovacs and Chairman?

– I don’t see many problems. Of course, I must be aware of who I’m representing, but I don’t see many potential conflicts. We have mutual beneficial interests. I would like to add that I was surprised when I was proposed as a candidate for the position as Chairman at OCC. It is an organization I like and respect very much.

What ambitions do you have on behalf of Oslo Cancer Cluster?

– We need to fulfill the expectations the members have for us, and I have some ideas on how OCC can expand its role of contributing to improved cancer research. But I think I will have a special focus on clinical trials. The importance of clinical trials in general and the importance of getting more of them to Norway.

The childhood actor
What do you do when not working with cancer?

– I’m an outdoors man! I go hunting and fishing when I can. I have an old cabin in Rendalen. As most surgeons I like to work with my hands, I fix and build. And of course, I have a large family. Four children that are my own, two step sons and I’m the grandfather of three soon to be five grandkids. There goes most of my spare time! But that’s a good thing.

Anything most people do not know about you?

– I was a childhood actor at our National Theatre for seven years. Among other things I played Rasmus in  “Rasmus på Loffen” by Astrid Lindgren. For all of the seven years I was there, I was acting in different plays with many of Norway’s most renowned actors, such as Per Aabel.

How did this happen?

– Back in the days they didn’t do official auditions the way they would have done today. It was my PE teacher that had some connection to the theatre and he brought the whole class in for an audition for Rasmus. I seriously considered becoming an actor before going to medical school.

 

 

 

Can Norway compete internationally on health?

Can Norway take a leading international position within the health industry? This was the main question for one of our discussions at Arendalsuka last week.

A report released in April this year shows a Norwegian health industry on the rise. However internationally, Norway is still comparatively small even compared to our Nordic neighbors.

SEE VIDEO FROM THE MEETING (Facebook, in Norwegian)

See our other events during Arendaluka:

  1. Fremtidens kreftbehandling i Arendal (In Norwegian)
  2. Tim: Pasienten som kommer hjem (In Norwegian)

Feasibility study
Oslo Cancer Cluster, Norway Health Tech, LMI, Innovation Norway and the The Research Council of Norway have, based on the ambition of creating a profitable health industry in Norway, conducted a feasibility study regarding the strategical positioning of the Norwegian health industry. 30 key position holders within the industry have contributed to the report, giving their views on how Norway can build a stronger health industry.

READ THE REPORT

The event in Arendal featured a a debate panel consisting of Ketil Widerberg from Oslo Cancer Cluster, Kathrine Myhre from Norway Health Tech, Monica Larsen from Legemiddelindustriforeningen, Hans Eirik Melandsø from Innovasjon Norge and Anne Kjersti Fahlvik from The Research Council of Norway.

Collaboration key
Collaboration between public institutions and the innovative private sector is important to create a health industry of some size, both according to the report published in April and the participants in the Arendal-panel. Oslo Cancer Cluster facilitates this kind of innovative public-private collaboration.

– We represent the whole value chain when it comes to cancer treatment and innovation. Research institutions, hospitals, as well as both small and large companies, Ketil Widerberg explained.

One example of how Oslo Cancer Cluster contributes to a functioning health industry is the new Car-T cancer treatment developed by Novartis. Important research and treatment conducted by the department of cell therapy at the Radium hospital is funded for clinical studies by the pharmaceutical company Novartis, the production is made possible by Norwegian innovations from Thermo Fischer, while the Norwegian Medicines Agency works hard securing international treatment approval.

– This type of collaboration saves lives while creating employment and income, said Widerberg.

Three ways to recreate success
The question is how do we recreate these type of success stories, and Widerberg emphasized three different aspects: More clinical studies, releasing the shackles on our health data and cultivating high-end research.

– Today, a successful Norwegian Centre of Excellence loses it’s funding after 10 years. If the research is a success, it should be doubled, he said.

Cancer Innovation Pitched to Investors

A full house presented itself when Inven2 pitched 8 of their most promising cancer research projects at Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator June 12th.

In total approximately 60 people gathered inside Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, and among the participants several experienced investors from other cancer projects.

— I’m positively surprised that so many potential and experienced investors found their way here today, commented Ole Kristian Hjelstuen, CEO at Inven2.

The event was the second in line of Inven2’s new pitching strategy, were they open up their projects at an early stage for potential investors and entrepreneurs with the will to transform the research into working companies.

— This shows that pitching is a good way to spread the word on the potential of our portfolio. The event today strengthens my belief that financing for our projects will be easier in the future, said Hjelstuen.

Eight Potential Treatments and Companies
Norway is among the very best when it comes to cancer research. Norwegian research has created top notch companies like Algeta, Nordic Nanovector, Ultimovacs and Zelluna Immunotherapy. Tuesdays  pitch proves that many more are on the horizon.

The eight-project presented at OCC Incubator are all exciting innovations that need financial backing and entrepreneurship to commercialize. The common denominator is a focus on modern treatments like immunology or precision medicine that are emerging as a result of what has been labelled “a breakthrough in cancer treatment” in later years.

Presentations of all eight projects available here.

The projects presented:

  • Tankyrase inhibition in cancer therapy
  • A new drug against Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML)
  • Autologous anti-CD20 TCR-engineered T-cell therapy for recurrent Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Lymphocyte Booster – Lymphocyte boosting growth medium for Adoptive Cell Therapy
  • CD37 CAR for cancer immunotherapy
  • IL-15 Immunotherapy – Fusion protein for immunotherapy of solid tumors
  • Backscatter: A communication technology enabling colon-cancer screening

New Chairman at OCC

Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen is appointed new chairman at Oslo Cancer Cluster (OCC).

On a recent General Assembly, Oslo Cancer Cluster elected Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen as new chairman after a unanimous vote. He takes over after Henrik Lund who opted not to stand for re-election after four years in the position.

Øyvind is currently CEO at Ultimovacs, a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster with its own cancer vaccine technology. Read more about Ultimovacs here.

— We look forward to having Øyvind as our chairman. He is very knowledgeable and enthusiastically committed to oncology research and development. His medical background combined with biotech entrepreneurship and years in the pharmaceutical industry, will help elevate Oslo Cancer Cluster to the next level, says General Manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster Ketil Widerberg.

Thank You Henrik
Oslo Cancer Cluster thanks Henrik Lund for his four years chairman and many years on the board. Oslo Cancer Cluster has during his years as chairman grown both at home and internationally. Widerberg thanked Henrik for his commitment to OCC during his tenure:

— Thank you for your commitment to Oslo Cancer Cluster all these years. During your time as chairman we have undergone important changes, and now have a solid foundation to build upon. The goal is to be the leading European center of cancer innovation.

AI Speeds Up Pharmaceutical Testing

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Immunitrack has landed investments worth millions. The money will be used to develop a computer program that can predict how the immune system will react to different substances.

Already Immunitrack, co-founded by Stephan Thorgrimsen and Sune Justesen, is offering contracted research to the pharmaceutical industry predicting how the immune system react to different pharmaceuticals, by producing reagents that can be used to examine the immune systems reaction.

New AI in The Making
When scientists discover promising substances they think can be developed into medicine for future treatments, only a small percentage will prove to have an effect after testing. The testing process is important, but at the same time expensive, time and resource consuming. What if a lot of this testing could be done virtually by a computer program? This is what Immunitrack want to offer with their new AI- technology.

The new investment will take this further and enable the company to boost its production and analytical capabilities. The investment will enable increased efforts in the development of a new best in class Prediction Software using artificial intelligence (AI). The software is seen as a vital cornerstone for applying the technology from Immunitrack in large scale projects within cancer treatment and precision medicine.

The applications of the new AI platform are multiple: The technology increases vaccine potency, speeds up the development of personalized cancer vaccines and remove negative immunological effects. Additionally, it enhances precision medicine efforts by improving patient profiling and treatment selection.

And everything is really moving fast for Immunitrack.

— Until September last year it was only the two of us that stood for everything. Production, marketing, you name it. Then things started happening for real and now we have employed 4 new colleagues, says Stephan Thorgrimsen.

The Investor
The new investment is from Blenheim Capital Limited. They are a diversified investment company focusing on geographically, commercially and technologically frontier companies and projects.

The investment in Immunitrack ApS with its emphasis on transforming market proven immunology-based skill set into a commercially viable AI solution matches Blenheim’s investment profile.

About Immunitrack
Immunitrack aims at becoming a world leader within prediction and assessment of biotherapeutic impact on patient immune response. The company has until now provided services and reagents to more than 70 biotech companies worldwide, including 6 of the top 10 Pharma companies.

Immunitrack was founded in 2013 by Sune Justesen and Stephan Thorgrimsen. Sune Justesen brings in experience from more than a decade of working in one of the world leading research groups at the University of Copenhagen. The company started commercialization of its products in 2016, and has grown its staff from 2 to 6 within the last 8 months.

Event invitation for INVEN2Pitch

Inven2-Pitch: Morgendagens kreftselskaper

Er du investor eller gründerspire? Vi trenger deg!

Norge har en sterk tradisjon innen kreftforskning i verdensklasse. Basert på denne fremragende forskningen har selskaper som Algeta, Nordic Nanovector, Ultimovacs og Zelluna Immunotherapy blitt spunnet ut. Og det kommer mer.

Inven2 inviterer investorer, gründerspirer og andre interesserte til en presentasjon av de mest lovende nye prosjektene innen kreft i Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovasjonspark den 12. juni kl. 14.

Dette er alle spennende innovasjonsprosjekter som når de går over i kommersiell fase om kort tid vil trenge finansiering og gründere. Er du gründer, investor eller helseinteressert, er dette en unik sjanse.

Bli med å skape morgendagens helsenæring!

12. juni kl. 14-16 | Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator (OCCI)

Meld deg på her!

Prosjektene som skal pitches:
  1. Tankyrase inhibition in cancer therapy
  2. A new drug against Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML)
  3. Autologous anti-CD20 TCR-engineered T-cell therapy for recurrent Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  4. Lymphocyte Booster – Lymphocyte boosting growth medium for Adoptive Cell Therapy
  5. CD37 CAR for cancer immunotherapy
  6. IL-15 Immunotherapy – Fusion protein for immunotherapy of solid tumors
  7. Backscatter: A communication technology enabling colon-cancer screening.

The Health Industry Is On the Rise

For the third year running, Menon Economics presented a report on “The Value of the Norwegian Health Industry”. The conclusion: Both the industry and exports are growing substantially. We see an increase in export income, research and innovation levels.

The report was launched at “Næringslivets Hus”, the home of NHO, and gathered a full house with people from the industry, public sector, press and the political sphere present.

Indications Verified: The health Industry is Growing
The report showed that export income is increasing and are estimated at 23.5 billion NOK, an estimate that is viewed as conservative. The report also finds an increase in private funds for research. In 2017, research and development funds originating from the private sector was in total 2.6 billion NOK.

In addition, the report notes an increase in start-up companies and innovation levels, but emphasizes a lack of available funds to realize projects in vulnerable phases.

The report’s main focus is the industry’s value contribution, which means contribution to BNP, jobs creation and tax income. However, in social economic terms, the report claims at present that as a benefit for society, the health industry is more important for the population and healthcare sector as a whole, rather than for economic growth alone.

Read the report. Download it here. (In Norwegian)

Can Help With White Paper
State Secretary Magnus Thue visited the launch of the report and talked about the upcoming White Paper on the Health Industry.

— Being healthy is a priced asset both for the individual and the society as a whole. This government prioritizes health and we want to create good working conditions for the industry.

And he added: – We will use this report as a backdrop when we are working on our White Paper.

We Have to Use Our Strengths
General Manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster Ketil Widerberg, is also happy for the report and that the health industry is on the rise.

— It means more and better treatment for people who need it!

However, he emphasized the importance of realizing that the health industry business is a global competition.

— This is an international competition and if we are to succeed, we have to succeed internationally! We need to use our strengths to position ourselves: That means putting our health data from our health registries to good use! This will prove beneficial both for industry and patient.

Behind the report is a consortium of contributors to the Norwegian Health Industry: NHO, Abelia, NHO Service, Oslo Cancer Cluster, Norwegian Smart Care Cluster, Inven2, The pharmaceutical Industry (LMI), Innovation Norway, The Norwegian Science Council, SIVA and Norway Health Tech.

Receives Prestigious Grant for a Second Time

Professor Harald Stenmark is granted the European Research Council’s (ERC) Advanced Grant for his cancer research. This is the second time he receives the grant; a privilege that has only befallen two other people, professor Edvard Moser (NTNU) and professor Kenneth Hugdahl (UiB).

Through the grant Stenmark’s research project “Coincidence detection of proteins and lipids in regulation of cellular membrane dynamics (CODE)” is supported with 2.5 million Euros over a 5-year period.

Cell Codes Give Cancer Insight
The research is intended to reveal “codes” our body use to trigger certain processes in our cells. This is especially important in cancer research because an error in these important codes may lead to uncontrollable cell division and cancer. If we can decipher the “codes” the cell utilizes, we could exploit this biotechnologically. Furthermore, one of the research objectives is to develop artificial codes that can be used in bio-sensors.

One of The Elite
Professor Stenmark is certainly a very busy researcher. Currently he is also starting his second Norwegian Center of Excellence (SFF) called “CanCell – Centre for Cancer Cell Reprogramming”. A center that will continue the research on cell coding and how it can be a tool in future cancer treatment.

The Research Council in a comment on the grant describes Stenmark as one of the elite.

By getting his second ERC-grant Stenmark is consolidating his position as an elite scientist who is producing breakthrough cancer research on a European and global scale, says Per Magnus Kommandantvold, national ERC contact at the Norwegian Science Council.

Bekjemper kreft med gentilpasset behandling

Gentilpasset behandling har siden begynnelsen av 2000-tallet blitt beskrevet som et av de nye, viktige våpnene som kan bekjempe kreft.

Hør forsker Hege G. Russnes og professor Anne Hansen Ree, her fra Cancer Crosllinks i januar i år, fortelle om deres forskningsprosjekt MetAction, og hvordan de tar i bruk gentilpasset behandling for å gi et behandlingstilbud til en pasientgruppe som har manglet det tidligere. Nå avsluttes prosjektet og du kan høre her hvorfor forskerne synes det er både feil og trist.

Forskningsprosjektet, som varte fra 2014 til 2017, ble ledet av Ree, kreftforsker og professor Gunhild Mari Mælandsmo, molekylærpatolog og lege Hege Russnes ved Oslo universitetssykehus, samt kreftkirurg og lege Kjersti Flatmark.

I forrige uke fikk de også forsiden på VG. Og det med god grunn: Ved bruk av genterapi og tverrfaglig kompetanse gir de hjelp til nye pasientergrupper og løfter norsk kompetanse innen gentilpasset behandling.

Les saken i VG her.

HPV program: Perfect Use of Our Health Goldmine

Since 2009, The Cancer Registry of Norway has made use of health data in groundbreaking ways. They have taken the Nordic HPV vaccine program and turned it into a unique study using real world data. The project manager Mari Nygård hopes the study can inspire others to use health data in a similar ways and dig up ‘health treasures’ important to public health.

How the Project Started
HPV stands for “human papillomavirus” and is the most common sexually transmitted infection. The majority of those infected are not aware of this and most infections are harmless and do not give any symptoms. However, some HPV types can cause cancer and are called high risk HPV. The most well known being cervical cancer.

In the 2000s, the pharmaceutical company MSD developed the first vaccine to prevent the HPV virus and the cancers caused by it.

However, when the vaccine was approved, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanded that health data monitoring the effect and side-effects of the vaccine, had to be collected for 15 years because that’s the time it takes for a HPV infection to cause cell change and cervical cancer.

This led to MSD contacting the Cancer Registry. Together they, with other Nordic research communities, started monitoring the effect of the vaccine in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland.

Image: The Cancer Registry

Image: The Cancer Registry

Uses Real World Data
Mari Nygård, head of the Cancer Registry’s HPV-related epidemiological research unit, has managed the project from the beginning, and is proud of their contributions thus far.

— We monitor the effect of the vaccine by using real world data. Among other things, we are using health registries to follow up 10,000 participants for 15 years. Less than five per cent have dropped out so far. That is sensational. The study is really unique in a global context, says Nygård.

The goal of the study is to map side effects and endpoints. Endpoints can be vaccine-induced immune responses, precursors to cervical cancer or other types of cancer caused by the HPV included in the vaccine.

The researchers used the health registries to gather information regarding the endpoints and combined this with obtaining biological material from clinical bio-banks for virologic and pathomorphological analyses. In addition, blood samples were collected from the participants at regular intervals to test for vaccine-induced HPV antibodies.

In addition to several publications and a general competence boost regarding HPV for the Cancer Registry, the research has received great international recognition.

Important to Collaborate on Health Data
Nygård hopes that the HPV program can inspire others to conduct similar studies using health data.

— There is currently a great interest in health registry research, and we know that the information stored is a potential goldmine. Our collaboration with MSD proves that it is possible to find “health gold” beneficial to public health, and the industry can play an important part creating these solutions, says Nygård.

The pharmaceutical company MSD agrees, and is very pleased with the collaboration.

— The Cancer Registry has played an important global part in the development of MSD’s HPV vaccines. We are proud to have contributed to promoting the national registries during the collaboration, and believe this can be an example of how Norwegian data can be used in future drug development and drug follow-up, says Elen Høeg, responsible for vaccines at MSD.

Inven2’s Important Contribution
Inven2 has also been an important contributor to the project. The company has been responsible for getting the first agreements between The Cancer Registry and MSD in place.

— Agreeing on the first contract with MSD was a complex process, but we got there with Inven2’s help, says Nygård.

Vessela Kristensen Receives Cancer Research Award

Professor Vessela Kristensen is awarded King Olav V’s Prize for Cancer Research for her breast cancer research.

A Prestigious Award
The prize is one million NOK and will be presented to Kristensen by his Majesty King Harald V on behalf of the Norwegian Cancer Society, April the 16th.

Kristensen is a Professor at the University of Oslo, and associated to the Department of Clinical Molecular Biology at Ahus and Institute for Cancer Research at Oslo University Hospital.

– This is overwhelming! A Warm thanks to the Norwegian Cancer Society and all the many researchers that I have teamed up with and that have made my projects possible to complete, Kristensen says in a comment to the Norwegian Cancer Society.

King Olav V’s Prize for Cancer Research is regarded as the most prestigious award within cancer research in Norway, and is awarded by the Norwegian Cancer Society to researchers that have excelled in their field of research for a substantial period.

The Genetics of Breast Cancer
Kristensen receives the award for her research on how genetic variations in breast and ovarian cancer influences the two diseases. The goal of her research group is to identify biomarkers that can lead to early patient diagnostics, as well as better patient care and prognosis. With the help of advanced analytic models dealing with lots of data, she wants to tailor effective treatments to each breast cancer patient.

The Cancer Society emphasizes innovation as a main characteristic of Kristensen’s research and underlines her substantial reputation in both national and international scientific communities.

– This year’s winner represents proven research! That is why she has received research funds from the Norwegian Cancer Society previously. Now we give her this prize to stimulate further innovative research, says General Secretary of the Norwegian Cancer Society, Anne Lise Ryel in a press release.

Photocure Expansion Accepted by FDA

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Photocure recently announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted an expansion of the bladder cancer detection system “Cysview”.

The FDA has accepted a supplemental New Drug Application (NDA) for “Cysview”. Photocure, the Norwegian company behind the drug-device system, has now been allowed to expand the system to include “Flexible Cystoscopes”, these are used in the ongoing surveillance of patients with bladder cancer. According to Photocure, this is the only combination of drug and device approved for the detection of bladder cancer.

How Cysview Detects Cancer
Cysview is a method of detecting bladder cancer using photodynamic technology and is the only FDA-approved product for use with blue light cystoscopy, where a device called a cystoscope is used to detect cancer inside the bladder.

Cysview is injected into the bladder through a catheter. It accumulates differentially in malignant cells. When illuminated with blue light from the cystoscope, the cancerous lesions fluoresce red, highlighting the malignant areas.

An important Tool
Bladder cancer is one of the most expensive cancers to manage, accounting for approximately 3.7 billion USD in direct costs each year in the US. Being able to expand “Cysview” with flexible Cystoscopes will substantially decrease costs and give patients a more effective treatment. Good news for both company and bladder cancer patients.

— This approval is an important milestone for Photocure. With 1.2 million surveillance cystoscopies performed annually in the U.S., this represents a significant opportunity for the company and allows us to bring solutions to current clinical challenges, says Kjetil Hestdal M.D. Ph.D., President and CEO, Photocure.

The expanded indication includes the combination of “Cysview” with the KARL STORZ PDD Flexible Blue Light Videoscope System. The approval also expands the indication for the current rigid setting by including the detection of the pre-cancer state carcinoma in situ (CIS) in patients, as well as the repeated use of Blue Light cystoscope with Cysview.

 

About Photocure:

Photocure, the world leader in photodynamic technology, is a Norwegian based specialty pharmaceutical company. Photocure develop and commercialize highly selective and effective solutions in several disease areas such as bladder cancer, HPV and precancerous lesions of the cervix and acne.

Their aim is to improve patient care and quality of life by making solutions based on Photocure Technology™ accessible to patients worldwide.

Photocure was founded by the Norwegian Radium Hospital in 1997. Today, the company, headquartered in Oslo, Norway, has over 60 highly skilled employees and operates in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the United States.

Welcome to Our New Members

Entering 2018, Oslo Cancer Cluster welcomes four new members to the fold. Cellmover, Bryn Aarflot, Kuehne + Nagel and Mercuri Urval are our new cluster members.

 

The Importance of Getting There
Founded in 1890, Kuehne + Nagel operates from 9 locations in Norway, offering tailored logistics solutions for different industries, including for healthcare and pharmaceuticals shipments.  Simply put, their expertise is getting things where they are supposed to go – safely and in compliance. They are one of the leading logistics providers in the world, with over 74 000 employees and 1 300 offices spread all over the globe.

For Oslo Cancer Cluster members, Kuehne+Nagel’s a special competence can be applied to help us reach our shared goal of accelerating the development of innovative cancer treatments.  They are CEIV-certified (IATA airfreight pharmaceutical), and WHO GDP (good distribution practices) compliant for pharmaceutical products and specialized in the distribution of pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments. For example, biotechs can have very specific requirements when it comes to transport of products. In many instances, it is crucial to transport biological tissue at a certain temperature under certain conditions.

Protecting and Developing Innovation
Another company rich in tradition is the Norwegian firm Bryn Aarflot. They are a full-service Intellectual Property (IP) firm with a total of 45 people located in central Oslo. Their diverse IP practice areas include strategic counselling, intellectual property creation, capture and clearance through to protection, commercialization, enforcement and maintenance, contract drafting and negotiations, as well as IP litigation.

Their approach is to get to know the client’s business and understand their technology, products and goals, and counsel them on how to utilize the intellectual property to generate revenue and increase market power. This is a positive addition to the Cancer Cluster community, where biotechs innovate on the basis of their own intellectual property.

Helping Start-Ups
Cellmover is truly a company that goes to the core of what we do here at Oslo Cancer Cluster. It’s a Biotech start-up, led by Oslo University Hospital cancer specialist Marit Inngjerdingen.  Cellmover’s goal is to develop immunotherapeutic products directed at the treatment of cancer. They specifically design products to enhance survival, activity, and targeting of immune cells used for cell therapy.

As a Oslo Cancer Cluster member, Cell Mover can benefit from all the help our cluster can provide. In the cluster environment, it is easier to meet and learn from companies with similar technologies, or it could prompt creative ideas from companies working with something quite different.  The benefits from learning the necessary “know-hows” to turn a start-up into a successful business and develop cancer treatment.

Do You Need Help Recruiting?
If you work with cancer research, there is one thing you certainly need and that is competent people. Mercuri Urval exists to secure that organizations always have the right people in place to produce the best possible result. They are a leading – Stockholm based – global Executive Search, Professional Recruitment and Talent Advisory firm. One of their fields of expertise is recruitment within the Life Sciences. For more than 50 years Mercuri Urval has recruited human resources for the healthcare industry.

 

 

 

 

 

Need Money For Your Life Science Start-up?

Inven2 are distributing start-up funds in Life Science! Very good news for Biotechs and cancer research companies in their early stages of development.

 

Attention all Oslo Cancer Cluster and Incubator members.  Inven2 received in late December 5 million NOK from Innovation Norway. They are now, subsequently, handing them out to Life science start-ups. Inven2 call them “presåkornkapital” meaning that the money is to serve as capital that stimulates the first stage of establishing a life science company. However, some criteria’s must be met to be eligible to apply. The application deadline is the 20th of February 2018.

Follow these criteria:

  • Investment can constitute 3 million NOK per company
  • Private investors must contribute with capital that at a minimum is equivalent with the Inven2-money “pre-såkornmidlene”.
  • At least 50 percent of private capital must be from independent investors, investors that are not a founder or an employee of the company.
  • The investment with “pre-såkorn” capital must be on equal terms with the private investments.
  • Companies receiving the investment must at the time of investment be Norwegian and younger than five years counted from the registry date at The Brønnøysund Register Center
  • Companies invested in must not be stock marked listed or large companies as defined in the EØS agreement state subsidy rules.
  • Companies invested in must be innovative as defined by the EØS Agreement state subsidy rules.
  • Investments can amount to 3 million NOK.

Be sure that your application contains the following:

  • A short introduction of your company
  • Business plan
  • How the money will be used
  • Explain how the matching money will be gathered
  • A plan for the execution of the new equity

Application deadline: 20th of February.

Send the application to: olav.steinnes@inven2.com

10th Cancer Crosslinks: Precision Treatment Reviewed

For the tenth time the cancer experts gathered to share knowledge and ideas at Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park. Cancer Crosslinks 2018 presented a diverse program covering themes from immuno-oncology to cachexia, to big data.

 

Cancer research is changing rapidly. Immunotherapy and precision medicine has revolutionized cancer treatment. This year’s Cancer Crosslinks took a closer look at developments over the last decade, and highlighted “Precision Treatment: Exploiting Recent Advances – Fast and Furious?”.

Weber Gazed into the Crystal Ball
The leading immunotherapy expert professor Jeffrey S. Weber visited Cancer Crosslinks for a second time. Weber has worked with immunotherapy for 30 years.  He provided an overview on recent advances. He shared new data showing that the combination of a certain vaccine and a type of immunotherapy called Checkpoint inhibitors, are especially effective against cancer. He also gazed into the crystal ball and made predictions on the future of cancer treatment. Weber is optimistic and thinks there are several promising combinations of precision treatments on the horizon.  He believes we can hope for a survival rate of 70-80 percent for people with certain cancers.

A Fiber Diet is Recommendable
Professor Laure Bindels from Belgium explored the theme of Microbiome, Cancer and Cachexia. Diet can be an important tool to fight cancer and cancer symptoms. Her research on mice indicates that changing to a fiber-rich diet can prevent undernourishment and increase the survival rate for cancer patients.

Hege Russnes and Anne Hansen Ree introduced us to the MetAction project where they conduct extended personal diagnostic testing to give cancer patients better and more effective treatment.

From the USA, we were introduced to precision treatment of gynecological cancer from Douglas A. Levine.  He was followed by Professor Andreas Engert, who raised the hot topic of establishing joint European guidelines for treatment across Europe for hematological cancer.

A Big Maybe to Big Data
The last speakers of the day where Assistant Professor Marcela Maus from Harvard Medical School, and Elisabeth Wik and Marc Vaudel from the University of Bergen. Professor Maus explained the use of CAR T- cells in cancer treatment. CAR-T Cells are T-cells with modified receptors to make them more effective against certain diseases, in this case cancer.

Elisabeth Wik and Marc Vaudel, with backgrounds from cancer research and computer science, discussed the use of big data in cancer research and treatment. Will big data revolutionize cancer treatment? The answer is maybe. We don’t know yet, it has potential.  We need to continue exploration, research, and collaboration to find out.

Download the Presentations
For those of you who missed the event or would like to revisit:

You may watch most of the presentations here.

You can download presentations from the meeting here:

Opening and Welcome with Jutta Heix from Oslo Cancer Cluster and Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Executive Director Innovation, The Norwegian Research Council.

Jeffrey S. Weber. Opening Keynote: Cancer Immunotherapy – The Journey So Far and Where We Are Heading.
Jeffrey S. Weber, Professor, Deputy Director and Co-Director, Melanoma Program, Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, USA.

Laure Bindels. International Keynote: The Microbiome, Cancer and Cachexia.
Laure Bindels, Louvain Drug Research Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

Hege G. Russnes and Anne Hansen ReeFrom Feasibility to Utility in Precision Medicine – Experiences from the first Norwegian Study of NGS-Based Therapy Decisions in Advanced Cancer.
Hege G. Russnes, Senior Consultant and Researcher, Oslo University Hospital, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Norway
Anne Hansen Ree, Professor, Akershus University Hospital, University of Oslo, Norway

Douglas A. Levine. International Keynote: Precision Medicine for Gynecologic Cancers – Opportunities and Obstacles.
Douglas A. Levine, Professor, Director of Gynecologic Oncology, Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center & Head, Gynecology Research Laboratory, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, USA.

Andreas Engert. International Keynote: Roadmap for European Hematology Research and Hodgkin Lymphoma: (Immuno)therapy, Late Effects and the Way Forward.
Andreas Engert, Professor for Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology, University Hospital of Cologne, Germany.

Marcela V. Maus. International Keynote: The Next Generation of Engineered T-cells for Immunotherapy of Hematological and Solid Tumors.
Marcela V. Maus, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School & Director of Cellular Immunotherapy, Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA.

Marc Vaudel  and Elisabeth Wik: Making Sense of Big Data for Oncology Patients – Vision and Reality
Marc Vaudel, Center for Medical Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital and KG Jebsen Center for Diabetes Research, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, Norway
Elisabeth Wik, Centre for Cancer Biomarkers, University of Bergen and Department of Pathology, Haukeland University Hospital, Norway

Follow the 10th Cancer Crosslinks: Stream and Program

Thursday January the 18th it’s time for the 10th Cancer Crosslinks here at Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park. Hospital personnel, researchers and everybody interested get together for an update on – and to discuss – the latest within cancer research.

 

This year’s conference will focus on Precision Treatment in cancer research with the headline: Exploiting Recent Advances – Fast and Furious?

Check out the program here.

 

Curida Takover Secures Norwegian Production

To secure Norwegian pharmaceutical production, Oslo Cancer Cluster- member Curida has completed a takeover of Ås produksjonslab AS.

 

Continued Production at Ås
Curida operate in an international marketplace and here the last line of production of pharmaceuticals is mostly taken care of by specialized operators.

«Ås produksjonslab» is a company rich in tradition, it has nine employees and produces many products for Norwegian pharmacies, while also facilitating production on an assignment order basis.

Curida purchase Ås produksjonslab from The Norwegian Apothecary Society (Apotkerforeningen), a union of Norway’s 900 Pharmacies.

However, the lab will continue their production at Ås also after the takeover. And, with a yearly revenue of 21 million NOK, Leif Rune Skymoen, CEO at Curida, believes the takeover combined with the general growth of the company will help balance the budget the upcoming year.

— We are making these strategic moves because Curida gathered 50 million NOK in December by releasing an equal amount of stocks to Canica and Klavness Marine. Furthermore, Investinor was given an option on 25 million NOK worth of stocks, says Head of the Board of Directors, Per S. Thoresen at Curida. Investinor will decide at the end of January.

Securing Norwegian Expertise
As early as December Thoresen informed that part of the money gathered in the end of the year emissions would be used to buy production facilities.

And CEO Per T. Lund at The Norwegian Apothecary Society is also happy with the takeover. He says in a press release that this will contribute to a strong base of Norwegian pharmaceutical production. Additionally, it secures Norwegian Pharmacies delivery of pharmaceuticals in strong demand.

— We are strengthening Norwegian pharmaceutical production and securing important expertise, Thoresen explaines.

Curida is not only securing Norwegian production, they have also become important for Norwegian war time infrastructure. Late 2017 Curida signed a letter of intent with the Norwegian Armed Forces. They now supply raw materials and are responsible for pharmaceutical manufacturing in situations of emergency preparedness, which means in case of conflict, state of war or general emergency.

Breakthrough Agreement for Phoenix Solutions

A new exciting collaboration among two Oslo Cancer Cluster members has been initiated. GE Healthcare has agreed to be the manufacturer of the target drug delivery platform ACT, made by Phoenix Solutions.

Early Christmas Present
As an early Christmas present to each other the two companies announced that they had signed an agreement securing manufacturing for ACT, short for Acoustic Cluster Therapy, a technology platform for targeted drug delivery. CEO at Phoenix Solutions, Per Sontum, emphasized the importance of gaining a manufacturer that had experience with similar products.

“We are excited to sign this agreement and get GE on board as contract manufacturer of our product. With more than 20 years of experience producing Sonazoid and Optison, GE`s Oslo organization is the world leading site for the manufacturing of this class of pharmaceuticals.”

From GE`s Womb
The collaboration, however, is not totally out of the blue. Phoenix Solutions sprung out from GE Healthcare in 2013. GE`s General Manager for Norway, Bjørn Fuglaas believes this tie between the two companies is an advantage:

“We are very pleased that Phoenix has chosen to work with GE for this project, which is in line with the expectations we had when the company was spun out of GE in 2013. This is an area of interest and we believe GE to be uniquely positioned in this field given existing and strong capabilities within production of disperse pharmaceuticals, and microbubbles in particular”, he says.

This agreement also secures what is called Good manufacturing practice (GMP) for Phoenix Solutions. Making their product and company a safer potential for investors and further along in their development than time should suggest.

A Very Promising ACT
ACT is a special and interesting targeting device. It is an ultrasound mediated drug delivery system that specializes in beating the vascular barrier. It has a wide range of therapeutically useful applications, but Its primary use being the ability to deliver sufficiently high concentrations of drug to the tumor without contaminating its surroundings. Phoenix thinks ACT is a promising targeting system for pancreatic, liver, triple negative breast and prostate cancers, and has extremely promising pre-clinical results so far.

Oncoinvent With New Lab and Bright Future

The cancer research company and Oslo Cancer Cluster-member Oncoinvent opened this Thursday a brand-new lab and research facilities at Nydalen Oslo. Now they control the whole production line and continue their development of their lead product candidate Radspherin.

A Good Year
2017 has been a good year for Oncoinvent. The company has now relocated and built new office and laboratory facilities, grown from four to twelve employees, and raised new capital. CEO at Oncoinvent Jan A. Alfheim believes that this represents a significant milestone for the company and will enable the company to further develop Radspherin®, a novel alpha-emitting radioactive microparticle designed for treatment of metastatic cancers in body cavities.

And Oncoinvent ends the year in fashion by opening brand new laboratory and research facilities. A lot of interested people came to tour the new facilities, observing an impressive lab with special infrastructure. Treating radioactivity, and circulating air in a facility that treats radioactive materials, calls for an extra advanced ventilation system.

Lab With all the Facilities
The idea of the new research facility is to be able to contain the whole production line, from research to drug manufacturing, to one location. All this contained in an area of 581 m2.

Creating a modern lab with the capabilities to treat radioactive materials in an active and well populated part of Oslo demands very strict guidelines. The production suites in the facility are constructed to be qualified for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for production of Medical Product Candidates. Systems for purifying and monitoring of air and water quality as well as the removal of any potential radioactivity have been installed to ensure the safety of the operators, population and the environment.

The Production and Research areas of the laboratory will facilitate both the development of the Radspherin program and other discovery projects of the Company.

A Weapon for Precision Medicine
Radspherin® has been shown to cause a significant reduction in tumor cell growth an it is anticipated that the product can potentially treat several forms of metastatic cancer. Oncoinvent is developing Radspherin® as a ready-to-use injectable product that seeks out cancer tumors and destroys them from inside by emitting its radioactive content.

The first clinical indication for Radspherin® will be treatment of peritoneal carcinomatosis, a rare type of cancer that occurs in the peritoneum, the thin layer of tissue that covers abdominal organs and surrounds the abdominal cavity. Additionally, Oncoinvent has lined up a collaboration with European and American clinical research centers for the clinical development Radspherin®.

Four Cluster Companies Get Innovation Reward

Nacamed, Phoenix Soulutions, NorGenoTech and Clever Health are awarded Innovasjonsrammen for good early-stage innovation and collaboration. Innovasjonsrammen is awarded by Oslo Cancer Cluster with money from Innovation Norway. Congratulations!

Important with early financing
Early financing while companies are establishing their business is often limited, but can be crucial to get important projects off the ground. Therefore, Innovation Norway has given Oslo Cancer Cluster 1000 000 NOK to reward excellent innovation and collaboration activity at an early stage. A cluster is all about reaping the benefits of collaboration and Oslo Cancer Cluster has awarded the Innovasjonsrammen-money to four of their promising member companies. Hopefully this will inspire other potential financers to support Norwegian bio businesses at an early stage.

Prize money awarded
NorGenoTech AS     150 000 NOK
Clever Health           100 000 NOK
Phoenix Solutions    500 000 NOK
Nacamed                 150 000 NOK

Hanne Mette Kristiansen from Innovation Norway and Ketil Widerberg from Oslo Cancer Cluster, as well as Bjørn Klem form Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, handed out checks for Innovasjonsrammen. Her received by Sergey Shaposhnikov from NorGenoTech, Jon-Bendik Thue from Clever Health, Per Christian Sontum from Phoenix Solutions and Christina Westerveld Haug and Lars Gunnar Fledsberg from Nacamed.

Bringing Together Tech Knowledge
At the 5th floor of Oslo Cancer Cluster the four companies each received their innovation award handed out by Hanne Mette Kristiansen from Innovation Norway, Ketil Widerberg from Oslo Cancer Cluster and Bjørn Klem from Oslo cancer Cluster Incubator.

Ketil Widerberg, General Manager at Oslo Cancer Cluster, thanked Innovation Norway for providing the money and the panel of experts that helped pick the four deserved winners. – This money helps to remove some risk from the early stages of the innovation process, said Widerberg.

Bjørn Klem from Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator added that it had been a very difficult process choosing the winners from the eight companies that applied. However, giving out prize money requires hard choices and he applauded the versatility at display.

–I think it is interesting that the four companies represent four different approaches within cancer research. Four different technologies. And getting them together here today is what Oslo Cancer Cluster and the incubator is all about: Getting different people together sharing knowledge and impulses!

Hanne Mette Kristiansen from Innovation Norway explained that Innovasjonsrammen was a way of reaching out to companies that usually avoided their attention. Startups that had not yet attracted any serious business attention, but nevertheless had very promising projects.

About the companies
Sergey Shaposhnikov from NorGenoTech explained that the money was coming in very handy. They are a company, as he explained it, straight out of the lab. Now they could start turning their research into business.

Clever Health has a more customer or patient oriented focus in their business model. Jon-Bendik Thue from Clever Health explained how a widespread disease as prostate cancer needs a way of differentiating between the patients that need treatment and the ones that do not.

Per Christian Sontum from Phoenix Solutions was very thankful for the award and money. He showed everybody how ultrasound can be way of targeting cancer cells with precision drug delivery.

And the event was elegantly rounded off by Christina Westerveld Haug and Lars Gunnar Fledsberg from Nacamed. Nacamed’s business goal is to produce nanoparticles of silicon material for targeted drug delivery of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and diagnostics to kill cancer cells. She explained that the money would be put in use straight away. Preparing for important trials after Christmas.

Giving Tuesday Crowdfunds for Cancer

You have probably heard of Black Friday. Now introducing Giving Tuesday: A day all about giving rather than buying. Eight Norwegian YouTubers have chosen to crowdfund on behalf of The Norwegian Cancer Society as part of Giving Tuesday. Raising money for cancer research and cancer patient care. A week before the big day five of them visited Oslo Cancer Cluster.

 

Tuesday the 28th of November, conveniently a couple of days after the shopping bonanza of Black Friday, is Giving Tuesday. It’s an international event. Started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to Black Friday and commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season.

Live Social Media Broadcast
On the day the Norwegian youTubers are staging a broadcast marathon on social media. At DnB Headquarters (Bjørvika) they all come together for a live broadcast so everybody can follow the crowdfunding and view their videos during Giving Tuesday.  And there are a lot of them. 10 other charities are being crowdfunded on the day with youTubers raising money on their behalf.

Learn more about what’s happening here.

Youtubers crowdfunding for cancer

Learning About Cancer Research
The last couple of weeks the youtubers funding for The Norwegian Cancer Society have learned about cancer research and the fight against cancer. They have visited the Society’s new Science Center learning about the history of the disease and afterwards they spent a day getting updated on current cancer research at Oslo Cancer Cluster.

At Ullern Innovation Park, the home of Oslo Cancer Cluster, they got to see researchers in action and learned about the recent advances in cancer research. How researchers now are trying to trigger the immune system in the fight against cancer and how we are getting better at producing medicines that target cancer tumors directly. They also got see how research and innovation merges together with education at the Innovation Park. Here researchers, Bio Businesses and Ullern Upper Secondary School share the same building and cooperate.  Learn more about this unique cooperation.

With this new knowledge on cancer they are well prepared to crowdfund a lot of money for The Norwegian Cancer Society and cancer research!

About the YouTubers
Christoffer Ødegård (17) Specializes in FIFA. Playing live games on youTube.

Emil Saglien (15) Also into football. Actually, about his life, but his life seems to be football.

Sara Høydahl (19) Vlogs about many things, but has had special success with a Friday special on murder mysteries!

Truls Valsgård (23), Truls is a full time youtuber. Produces videos daily about his own life.

Tuva Robsrud (16) From Bærum and vlogs about fashion and make up.

 

NOME Important to BioIndustry Growth

Nordic Mentor Network for Entrepreneurship (NOME) will be an important piece of the puzzle if Norway is going to fulfill their ambitions set by the coming White Paper on the Healthcare Industry.

If we are to make our bioindustry more competitive and take a leading European role within eHealth, we need to learn from the best in the business. NOME is a program that aims to lift Nordic life sciences to the very top by using mentors.

The Norwegian Parliament’s Health Committee has asked for a report on the Healthcare industry in Norway, a so called White Paper. The objective is to examine the challenges we face because of climate change, new technology, robotics and digitalization.

Innovation needs to meet industrial targets
Additionally, the committee has stressed the importance of a purposeful dedication to health innovation. There should be a focused investment In fields where we have special preconditions to succeed. A better facilitation of clinical studies and use of health data is especially emphasized. Nordic countries are in a unique position with vast registries of well documented health data, a good example being the Cancer Registry of Norway. With better implementing of new technology this type of health data will be increasingly important.

The committee also emphasized the need to shorten the distance between research and patient treatment through effective commercialization. And, in continuation, easier access to risk investment capital to help the industry grow.

–The path from research to actual treatments and medication is long and hard, and rightfully so – everything must be thoroughly tested. But you can imagine! Every second we can peel off the time it takes for new research to reach patients is extremely valuable and saves lives, explains Bjørn Klem, Managing Director, Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.

NOME a piece of the puzzle
However, how do we fulfill these ambitions? Klem believes the answer is combining forces within the other Nordic countries.

– We have different strengths. Think about how big Bioindustry and business is in Denmark. There is so much to learn form that!

NOME is a concrete way of collaborating. It is easy to say: “we are going to learn from each other”, but how do we in a concrete fashion set about doing this. NOME is a mentoring program that sets collaboration in motion.

— To put it plainly, NOME is a program for all Nordic Bio start-ups. They can apply and if their application is successful we send experts catered to help with the company’s very specific needs, explains Klem.

NOME is a meeting place between the start-up freshman and the experts that have thread this path before. They match Nordic entrepreneurs with handpicked international professionals to help each start-up with their specific needs.

— Think about it! There is so much a new start-up don’t know, lacking network and experience. How do you make it as a commercialized company in the health industry? NOME can provide both business and research mentoring transferring knowledge from past successes to new ones, says Klem.

A Twofold Benefit to Society
The desire is to propel the Nordic countries into one of the leading life science regions to commercialize high growth life science start-ups.

— With NOME society’s return is twofold. Firstly, we give patients access to new treatment faster by giving start-ups the necessary guidance and know-how. Secondly, we give our Bio Business a chance to grow with all the positives that has to economy and employment, Klem believes.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator coordinates the NOME-program in Norway and collaborates with the incubator Aleap to find the best match of mentors and entrepreneurs. To take part in the program you can click here for more information.

Precision Medicine has a New Target

Researchers at the Centre for Cancer Biomedicine, a Center of Excellence and a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster, have discovered an enzyme wreaking havoc inside cells that turns into tumors.

For our body to work as normal, cells need to know which way is up. When cells lose track of their orientation, they can start to grow out of control, and develop into cancer.

A team of researchers has identified an enzyme for cell orientation, offering a future target for precision medicine in cancer treatment.

– We have discovered how a traffic jam in the sorting inside cells can cause tumor development, says senior author Tor Erik Rusten at the Centre for Cancer Biomedicine at the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital.

LKB1 Activity Promotes Tumor Growth
And the villain is an enzyme called LKB1. Results suggests that LKB1 is shut off in normal cells, but that a traffic jam allows LKB1 to remain active longer.

– High activity of LKB1 contributes to tumor growth by sending confusing signals to the cell about which way is up, says Rusten.

The teams research showed that a high activity of LKB1 increased stress signals in the cells and disrupted cellular orientation.

Targeting LKB1 as Potential Therapy
Rusten and colleagues further tested the effect of genetically removing LKB1 from cells that otherwise would form tumors due to loss of orientation.

– To our surprise, reducing LKB1 activity restored normal epithelial organization and prevented tumor growth. These results suggest that pharmacological inhibition of LKB1 may be beneficial as treatment in some cancer types, says Rusten.

It will be important to determine if pharmacological agents can specifically target LKB1 in animals or in human cells in culture, and how such potential treatment may be transferred to the clinic.

– This is another example on how long-term financial commitments to basic research can lead to high-quality preclinical results. Hopefully, our findings will help provide better treatment for future cancer patients, concludes Rusten

Raising Prostate Cancer Awareness

This week on Monday, Prostate Cancer Day, the Norwegian Cancer Society initiated their Blue-Ribbon Campaign to raise prostate cancer awareness. In line with the campaign, Oslo Cancer Cluster gives you the chance to update yourselves on prostate cancer research Thursday the 30th of November.

 

The Blue-Ribbon campaign is initially a month’s focus on prostate cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancers we know. On average, every day three people die of prostate cancer in Norway alone. Over the length of a year, that number climbs above 5000 and they are all exclusively male.

For 20 years the Pink-Ribbon Campaign has been synonymous with awareness of breast cancer, a form of cancer that almost exclusively affect women. The movement was a success and brought a lot of attention and money for breast cancer research. Now, the attention turns to men and prostate cancer.

Research Needed
— I think we will receive a lot of attention with this campaign. The disease affects so many and is under communicated. Men often keep this type of information to themselves. And importantly, we need more research on the subject, says Anne Lyse Ryel, Secretary General at the Norwegian Cancer Society.

First and foremost, the campaign aims to lift prostate cancer into the limelight. Subsequently lifting taboos and increasing awareness among men and the population at large. Next in line is money for research. It is severely needed because reaching 2030, estimates predict an 40 percent increase on the frequency of prostate cancer.

An Update on Prostate Cancer
However, research is very much ongoing. And, if you are wondering what the most current research on prostate cancer entails? Visit Oslo Cancer Cluster’s R&D Network Meeting that Thursday the 30th of November focuses on exactly prostate cancer research. It can serve as a very informative conclusion to a month of prostate cancer awareness. Listen to prominent experts explaining current research and where prostate cancer research is heading in the future.

Read more about our Prostate Cancer meeting.

New Funds for Ultimovacs

Investors are recognizing the huge potential of Oslo Cancer Cluster member Ultimovacs. They are currently investing an additional 125 million NOK in the cancer research company.

 

Well known investors and Ultimovacs backers Stein Erik Hagen, Anders Wilhelmsen og Bjørn Rune Gjelsten are among financiers putting fresh money into the cancer research company, according to the Norwegian newspaper Finansavisen.

Preparing for the Stock Exchange
Kjetil Fjeldanger,  the Ultimovacs chairman, believes a stock exchange listing within 12-18 months is realistic. – We will start the preparations for a stock exchange listing to prepare for further financing, says Fjeldanger.

Ultimovacs has so far gathered a lot of funds. However, a lot of funding still remains because of the sheer cost of doing cancer research.

– Current funds will fund us until the start of phase two of clinical studies, explains General Manager of Ultimovacs, Øyvind Arnesen.

Fighting Cancer with the Body’s Own Tools
The company is developing a cancer vaccine that helps the body’s own immune system fight cancer. Currently, three concluded studies have been combined into one, and all participating patients will now be followed closely during a five year period to monitor their survival rate.

– The patients are doing well, but the documentation is not sufficient, but we continue in very good spirits, explains Arnesen.

However, a commercial vaccine will not be for sale until 2021, according to Arnesen.

Arnesen and Ultimovacs are also initiating a new study on melanoma cancer where the vaccine is used in combination with the most common immunotherapy remedies. The hope is that the two methods will strengthen each other and make an efficient cancer fighting remedy together. The study will conclude in 18 months.

Photocure with FDA Priority

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Photucure recently announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted a Priority Review for an expansion of Cysview.

 

The FDA has accepted a supplemental New Drug Application (NDA) for Cysview on a priority review basis. Photocure, the Oslo, Norway-based company that developed and is marketing the drug-device system, wants to expand the labeling to include use for hospital patients not staying overnight.

Basically, a Priority Review  means that the FDA will speed up their approval process and a decision is now expected in the first half of 2018.

How Cysview Detects Cancer
Cysview is a method of detecting bladder cancer using photodynamic technology and is the only FDA approved product for use with blue light cystoscopy, where a device called a cystoscope is used to detect cancer inside the bladder.

Cysview is injected into the bladder through a catheter. It accumulates differentially in malignant cells. When illuminated with blue light from the cystoscope, the cancerous lesions fluoresce red, highlighting the malignant areas.

An important Tool
— Photocure is dedicated to improving the lives of patients with bladder cancer and we are committed to working with the FDA to bring this important clinical tool to the US market as soon as possible.

— We look forward to hearing a decision from the FDA early next year on the US Cysview® label expansion to include patients undergoing surveillance cystoscopy using a flexible scope, said Kjetil Hestdal, President & CEO, Photocure ASA.

 

 

 

About Photocure:

Photocure, the world leader in photodynamic technology, is a Norwegian based specialty pharmaceutical company. They develop and commercialize highly selective and effective solutions in several disease areas such as bladder cancer, HPV and precancerous lesions of the cervix and acne.

Their aim is to improve patient care and quality of life by making solutions based on Photocure Technology™ accessible to patients worldwide.

Photocure was founded by the Norwegian Radium Hospital in 1997. Today, the company, headquartered in Oslo, Norway, has over 60 highly skilled employees and operates in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the United States.

Targovax Releases Positive Clinical Results

Targovax has received very positive results regarding the survival rate of patients with pancreatic cancer.

Immune-oncology aims to help the body’s own immune system fight cancer and the ambition is to address the unmet need for long-term survival for patients with advanced cancers.

13 of 13
The company specializes in immune-oncology and is a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster. It recently released information revealing that 13 of 13 test subjects where alive after one year of treatment in a stage two clinical trial study. In addition, an active immune response–meaning the immune system was triggered to attack the cancer–was observed in as much as 11 of 13 patients.

No allergic reactions
These results came after the number of test subjects were reduced from 19 to 13 to see if allergic reactions stalled with reduced dosages of the TG01; Targovax’s lead RAS immunotherapy product. And luckily, no serious allergic reactions were observed,

Magnus  Jäderberg MD, Chief Medical Officer of Targovax, said:

– We are delighted that we maintain a strong immune response and one-year survival rate with the reduced dosing  regimen, essentially  equivalent  to  and  consistent with the previously  reported data  from the  main cohort.

These new results are so positive that stock market analysts DnB Markeds predict a serious stock market rise for Targovax.

 

About Targovax

Arming the patient’s immune system to fight cancer

Targovax is a clinical stage company focused on developing and commercializing novel immuno-oncology therapies to target, primarily, treatment-resistant solid tumors. Immuno-oncology is currently one of the fastest growing therapeutic fields in medicine.

In July, 2016 the Company listed its shares on Oslo Axess.

Read more

 

Curida’s Spreading Roots

Curida has come a long way from defending their place at the Norwegian factory to setting their sights internationally. What is Curida and their goal all about?

 

Creating value within ones own country while steadily spreading roots globally is no easy feat, but the young Norwegian pharmaceutical company Curida is blooming.


Overcoming the threat at Elverum

The company’s history is a classic tragedy intertwined with devotion and a feel-good ending. In 2013, change of ownership and new strategic priorities threatened to strip 190 employees from their jobs at the manufacturing site in Elverum, Norway. New owners Takeda announced that the site in Elverum was to be shut down, after providing pharmaceutical manufacturing since 1974.

What followed was a feat of patience and outstanding motivation. Employees and management joined forces to establish a new company, form a new business model, and get going. In July 2015, Curida was established and operation carried on.


Going abroad 

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Curida is now a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization, offering expertise in manufacturing and development of liquid pharmaceuticals.

The Curida customer base ranged from early-phase biotech companies to large, multinational pharma companies. Further growth in the international market is a top priority for the company. Curida is specialized on liquid products, using for example the advanced blow-fill-seal technology.

 

Unstoppable Ambition
Naturally, Curida has ambitious goals for home as well.

– In Norway we work closely with other start-up companies and make sure to help them thrive in production and innovation. Regardless of our vision to be a top-competitor internationally, locally, in Norway, we strive to become a national centre for industrialisation of medical innovation, says CEO Leif Rune Skymoen.

After overcoming the potential reality of shutting down, Curida now bursts through with unstoppable energy and ambition.

Young Skills at Thermo Fischer

The innovation company of the year wants to encourage young talents. 

 

Six students from Ullern Upper Secondary School spent their school day at Thermo Fisher Scientific just days after the company won the prestigious award as the innovation company of the year in Norway.

As part of the school collaboration between Ullern Upper Secondary School and Oslo Cancer Cluster, Thermo Fisher Scientific opens their labs for science students at work deployment.

 

Curious about the school collaboration? Check out our new webpage!

The Dynabeads
The students got a unique insight into how one of Norway’s largest biotechnology companies advances their products, based on the so-called Ugelstad-beads or Dynabeads, developed by Professor John Ugelstad in the late 1970s.

Today, Dynabeads are further industrialized for use in specialized diagnostic tests and cancer treatments worldwide. Annually, the beads are used in an estimated number of four billion diagnostic analyses.

Scientist Synne Larsen and three students are in the company laboratory in Lillestrøm, a ten minute train ride from the capital, where Thermo Fisher Scientific quality checks its products in Norway.

Impressed students 
– I find it incredibly useful to see how our learning at school is being used in the workplace, says student Emma E. J. Botten.

Together with two co-students she was able to see the research and production done in the company’s facilities in Lillestrøm. In parallel, three of the girls’ fellow students were in Oslo and tried out life as crime scene investigators, using Dynabeads as a tool for finding DNA, in the company’s facilities in Montebello.

– It’s impressive to see how much work lies behind their products and how dedicated those who work here are, says student Nora B. Grone.

Diverse employment strategy
The students are in their third year at Ullern Upper Secondary School, with science as their speciality. They all want a career in medicine, global health, mathematics, physics or engineering. A tour of the lab and a visit to the factory were therefore among the highlights of the day.

– It was a bit overwhelming to see Ugelstad’s equation, which is the recipe for the beads, says student Thilde E. Kjorstad.

– Yes, but keep in mind that everyone cannot be as brilliant as Ugelstad. Everybody we employ is equally important and we must have people with different backgrounds and experience, says Erlend Ragnhildstveit, Research Director of Thermo Fisher Scientific in Norway.

Useful cooperation
Thermo Fisher Scientific is a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster. Part of the staff is situated in Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, where Ullern Upper Secondary School is located as well.

– The collaboration with Ullern is useful and important to us as a company. This makes it easier to host deployments. In order to develop our business further, as well as the health industry in Norway, we need people with a science background, says Erlend Ragnhildstveit.

Photocure’s Promising Combo

Photocure reveals promising results in bladder cancer through the use of Blue Light Cytoscopy alongside the drug Hexvix. 

Bladder cancer endangers 167,000 people in Europe annually followed by over 59,000 deaths.

Men are especially at risk, where a staggering 75% of bladder cancer cases occur. Not only that, but bladder cancer has a reputation as being one of the most expensive cancers to have, due to its high reccurence rate with an average of 61% reccurence the first year followed by 78% for the next five years.

The results we needed
As such, there is an increasingly urgent need to develop better methods of both managing and diagnosing the disease. We’re already hearing positive news from the Norwegian company Photocure; a leader in photodynamic technology. Photocure revealed the results from their study on the 18th of August, where the results appear promising in terms of prognosis and diagnosis.

The promising new combo
By combining Blue Light Cystoscopy (BLC) and Hexvix, Blue Light Cytoscopy being the insertion of a tube in the urinary tract instilled with a photosensitizing agent, they found the overall reccurence rate of three years had decreased substantially. More specifically, by combining Blue Light Cytoscopy with Hexvix, they found that the recurrence rate dropped down to 39% for the next three years, as opposed to using an optimized White Light Cytoscopy (WLC), a standard cytoscopy, that resulted in a 53.3% of reccurence.

Substantially better
The benefit was even more substantial for those with high-risk disease, where the chances of recurrence at year three were 52.1% for the Blue Light Cytoscopy combo as opposed to the White Light Cytoscopy, found to be at around 80%.

How does it work?
The probable reasoning for this improvement lies in how the new combo works to detect bladder cancer. By using Blue Light Cytoscopy with Hexvix, which is a drug that is selectively taken up by cancer cells in the bladder, they are able to see the cancer light up in bright pink. This enables the doctors  to accurately resect and make better management deciscions, thusly improving the patients outlook and way of life.

Roche Medicine Ready to Fight Breast Cancer

On the 15th of August, drug Kadycla (trastuzumab emtansin) is finally approved by the Beslutningsforum and ready to help hundreds with breast cancer in Norway.

The drug, developed by company Roche, specifically targets patients with the variant HER2 positive breast cancer – a breast cancer that tests positive for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, a protein which promotes growth of cancer cells.

About 15-20% of cases in breast cancer, cancer cells have a gene mutation that produces excess HER2 protein, thusly making it a more aggressive form of breast cancer as well as being resistant to hormone therapy. However, treatments that specifically target HER2 are very effective.

New Drug Kadycla
This is where newly developed drug Kadycla comes in.

Kadycla is the first medicine targeted towards breast cancer patients where the cell lymph nodes are linked to the targeted antibody; meaning it’s the first drug where lymph nodes, or parts of the cell that filter out cancer, are linked to the antibody that attacks or even neutralizes the infected cell. This causes the chemo to target the HER2 positive cancer cells.

Prolonged Survival Rate
With the drugs approval, around one hundred Norwegian cancer patients are provided with a treatment program that shows a median prolonged survival rate of 5,8 months, compared to the combination of lapatinib and kapecitabine for persons with the variant HER2-positive breast cancer.

Better Quality of Life
On top of this, it’s known that spreading breast cancer is a deadly disease with lower quality of life, but Kadycla helps by attacking cancer cells in place of the body’s own healthy cells. Essentially, this means better quality of life for the patient due to fewer symptoms brought on by the disease.

Reached an Agreeable Solution
Kadycla, since September in 2014, has been recommended in the Norwegian Breast Cancer Group’s medical guidelines for those who would benefit from its capabilities. Roche, in this case, through the span of three years aligned eight different pricing options for the authorities. In regards to this, Audun Ohna, director of market access and pricing, comments:

– We have worked a long time so that Norwegian breast cancer patients can have the chance to use Kadycla in Norwegian health services. After roughly three years negotiating, where we have stretched ourselves thin both economically and in variating payment solutions, we can finally and gladly say we have reached a solution that is both acceptable for both parties. This will benefit patients, doctors and society as a whole.

Meet Our New Members – Part Two

We are proud to introduce Oslo Cancer Cluster’s new members. This is the second part of two stories about our new members.

You can find the first part HERE.

On the 24th of August, Oslo Cancer Cluster hosted a bustling summer party in the Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, where the new members had the chance to introduce their amazing work.

This is a brief introduction to those of the new members who primarily work in consulting.

Dehns
At Dehns, they have a commercially focused and practical approach to intellectual property that helps them to turn inspired thinking into patents, registered designs and trade marks. Dehns was founded in 1920 and has over 90 staff members, with offices in multiple locations across England. Dehns is one of the largest firms of trade mark and patent attorneys in Europe.

– Partnering with Oslo Cancer Cluster will allow us at Dehns to have more contact with the diverse members at Oslo Cancer Cluster that could benefit from our services. Norway is a buzzing place for opportunity, so we believe this is a special chance to be more present. By doing this, we hope to help companies with whatever questions or problems they might have, whilst also setting sights on getting in contact earlier, so that we can get to the root of the problem quicker and make a real impact as a result. Undoubtedly, getting to the root of the problem at the start is more exciting for everyone, and we aim to do just that, says Barbara Rigby, associate at Dehns.

GIAMAG
GIAMAG was established in 2012 as a commercial spin-off of Norway’s Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), where their patented technology is based off of the Institute’s research. GIAMAG is not wholly belonging to the area of consulting, but nonetheless offers consulting services in their product: one of the world’s most forceful and configurable magnets. GIAMAG’s mission is to provide solutions based on magnet technology for a varying range of industrial applications. They have the expertise to design and configure magnet systems to customer’s specific requirements.

Acapo
Acapo is an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) firm mainly focused on the maintanace of patents, trademark registrations and design. Acapo, despite being located in several places, works as one company. The head office is located in Bergen. Acapo has a joint administration with one legal and one patent department. They strive for the highest degree of both service and quality, where the most important assets are their highly qualified professionals and staff members. They do not only offer advice in areas related to Intellectual Property, but also in business areas. Acapo covers all technical fields.

Artemida
Artemida Pharma is a consultancy company in drug development who has highly experienced scientists representing multiple disciplines and therapeutic areas. Artemida Pharma offers optimised strategic drug development for biotechnology and pharmaceutic clients. They have past experience with a wide variety of clients, geographic areas and product types that enable them to offer integrared project-driven solutions.

DNV GL
DNV GL allows organizations to progress the sustainability and safety of their business. They provide classification, technical assurance, software and independent expert advisory services to the maritime, oil & gas and energy industries. They also provide certification services to customers across a wide range of industries. In terms of healthcare, they support organizations in this sector across the globe by applying system thinking to address risks and deliver high-quality, person centered care.

IRW Consulting
IRW is a Nordic Contract Research Organization (CRO) With more than fifteen years of experience in conducting clinical trials, non-interventional studies and medical device studies. They have built a wide network in Scandinavia as well as with the rest of Europe and the United States. IRW, depending on the customer’s requirements, is equipped with staff that is either outsourced or works with in-house projects. They cover all stages of clinical development.

Meet our new members – Part One

We are proud to introduce Oslo Cancer Cluster’s new members. This is the first part of two stories about our new members.

You can find the second part HERE.

On the 24th of August, Oslo Cancer Cluster hosted a summer party with the intention of getting to know their newest members in an informative and fun setting. The party started with a heartfelt welcome and speech held by Oslo Cancer Cluster’s General Manager Ketil Widerberg and intensive mingling amongst guests. After the welcome was in order, each member stood up, in turn, to introduce their amazing work.

Of the 14 new members we have so far this year, here’s an introduction to those who primarily work in the area of biotechnology.

Precision Oncology
Precision Oncology is a specialty contract research organization (CRO) that provides clinical research services. The company primarily provides application of metrics-driven project management to perfect oncology drug development.

As for their inspiration and reasoning for joining the Oslo Cancer Cluster roster of members, Andrea Cotton-Berry, head of Strategic operations at Precision Oncology, responds:

– What really inspires us at Precision Oncology, is matching the right drug to the right patient, by using biomarkers for patient identification and stratification; a true personalized medicine approach, to find more efficient treatments for patients with advanced cancers. We are looking forward to bringing our team of oncology development experts to contribute to the Oslo Cancer Cluster mission and initiatives, especially advancing immuno-oncology research.

Personalis
Personalis is a leading preciscion medicine company focused on advancing next generation sequencing based services for immuno-oncology. The company is mainly focused on producing the most accurate genetic sequence from each sample set, and using analytics and privately owned content to draw reliable and accurate biomedical interpretations of the data.

In regards to current and future inspiration, Erin Newburn, Senior Manager and Field Applications Scientist at Personalis, comments:

– We aspire to utilize next-generation sequencing as a multi-dimensional platform for bio-marker discovery across cancer therapeutics, as well as throughout developmental stages.

iNANOD
iNANOD is a nanotechnology based anti-cancer drug developing company established in 2016. Their goal is to increase efficacy of anti-cancer drugs and to reduce side-effects for cancer patients as well as maximizing the patients longevity. They aim to become a pharmaceutical company for anti-cancer nanomedicines in the near future.

As for expectations and reasoning for joining Oslo Cancer Cluster, Nalinava Sengupta, CEO and Co-Founder of iNANOD shares his view:

– We think our project – to develop cancer nano-medicine – fits best with Oslo Cancer Cluster. In the incubator we get in touch with other similar firms who have achieved milestones in cancer drug delivery. We expect synergistic knowledge transfer within the incubator network, as well as various kinds of help from the cancer research related entrepreneurial ecosystem developed at Oslo Cancer Cluster. This also helps with business developmental aspects and project application writing.

Norgenotech
Norgenotech is a start-up company that originated from the EU project COMICS that aimed at improving production methods for analysis of DNA damage and repair. Norgenotech mainly assesses genotoxicity, or property of chemical agents that damage the genetic information within a cell, as well as drugs. The company also participates in research projects and developing tools for measuring DNA integrity in patients.

Eisai
Eisai AB originates from a global company in Japan that is active in the manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical drugs, pharmaceutical production systems, and over-the-counter drugs. Eisai AB, that will be joining the Oslo Cancer Cluster roster of members, is the sales subsidiary of Eisai Company.

Immunitrack
Immunitrack is a startup company with capabilities in production and studies of protein molecules central to the adaptive immune system in humans in order to develop new therapeutics. Their mission is to provide the research community with tools to redesign or select drug candidates at the early stage of research and development, but also to provide reagents to monitor leading drug candidates effect on patient’s immune system.

Nacamed
Nacamed‘s goal is to produce nanoparticles of silicon material for targeted drug delivery of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and diagnostics to kill cancer cells. By using silicon nanoparticles in cases such as therapy, the particles are biodegradable which entails a clean delivery without any side-effects as they completely disappear and dissolve from the body.

Arctic Pharma
Arctic Pharma is a privately held startup biotech company founded in 2012 that primarily focuses on developing innovative anti-cancer drugs. They do this by exploiting cancer cells and their peculiar features, or more specifically, by targeting key enzymes that are upregulated, or have been increased in terms of stimulus with inhibitors designed at Arctic Pharma. Essentially, their main mission is to become a leader in designing cancer therapies that are both environmentally friendly and have few side effects.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Wins Innovation Award

The Research Council of Norway has given Thermo Fisher Scientific the prestigious Innovation Award for their Dynabeads.

 

The Oslo Cancer Cluster member Thermo Fischer Scientific was awarded the prize for developing an entirely new variant of an existing product, making it possible to analyse human genes quickly and effectively and improve diagnostic testing and patient treatment.

This is the technology known as «Dynabeads» that makes faster and cheaper DNA-sequencing accesible.

– The award means a lot to us as a company, and to everybody who has been working on product, production and launch during these years. It is an acknowledgement that investment, cooperation and important global products are noticed, says Ole Dahlberg, CEO at Thermo Fischer Scientific Norway.

Vital role in Norwegian biotech
Thermo Fisher Scientific is one of Norway´s leading biotechs and among the most profitable. The company has played a vital role in Norwegian biotech with the development of «Dynabeads», used all over the world to separate, isolate and manipulate biological materials.

Thermo Fisher’s Dynabeads are used in basic research, in billions of diagnostic tests, as well as in immunotherapy.

In May this year, Thermo Fisher Scientific was nominated for the “Norway’s smartest industrial company” award for the same technology. The smart element was using the beads in a completely new way on a microchip in combination with semiconductor technology. This link between biotech and electronics has created the instruments from Thermo Fisher which we now see in research institutes and diagnostic labs all over the world.

Ambitious research and development
– Thermo Fisher Scientific is carrying out an ambitious research and development effort in a very important area. The company is achieving this by using its own resources, seeking cooperation with exacting customers and drawing on public funding schemes from, among others, the Research Council of Norway. In this way, the company contributes to job creation as well as value creation, said Monica Mæland, Minister of Trade and Industry, according to The Research Council of Norway. She presented the Innovation Award during the Arendal Week in August.

The Research Council’s Innovation Award comprises a cash prize of NOK 500 000 and is given each year to a business or public entity that has demonstrated an outstanding ability to apply research results to create research-based innovation.

Having Chemistry with Chemistry

Interested pupils at Ullern Upper Secondary School arrive at laboratory 117 to learn alongside Dr. Bora Sieng, a chemist in Arctic Pharma. Dr. Sieng advocates for the importance of chemistry and encourages pupils to pursue a career in the exciting field of chemistry.

 

At nine o’clock in the morning, three boys eagerly gather outside laboratory room 117. They’re waiting for an exciting opportunity offered by the collaboration between Ullern Upper Secondary and Oslo Cancer Cluster. This opportunity provides pupils the chance to see how chemistry is used in a real-life setting (a biotech company). This allows pupils to apply what they have learned in the classroom and in their textbooks to real-life scientific problems, such as developing new therapies for diseases.

The door opens and Dr. Bora Sieng greets the students with a friendly smile and handshakes. Dr. Sieng, who has a PhD in organic chemistry and is project leader in Arctic Pharma, welcomes them in. Arctic Pharma is a small start-up company developing innovative anti-cancer drugs.

Reaction Action
When entering the lab, we can feel the excitement between the pupils, they are here to learn. Dr. Sieng asks the boys what level of chemistry the pupils have taken. They nervously, but excitedly respond that they haven’t taken advanced levels, but know basic organic chemistry. Thus, they’re put to work after going through some textbook examples and introductory concepts. It’s time for some chemistry cooking!

A Collaboration is Formed
Arctic Pharma relocated their chemistry laboratory temporarily to Ullern in April. Dr. Sieng has been using the laboratory since then. He offers some insight into the new collaboration between Arctic Pharma and Ullern Upper Secondary School.

– For the past few months, I have had the opportunity to carry out my work using the facilities at Ullern through Arctic Pharma’s Collaboration with the school. I feel the school collaboration is a win-win for Arctic Pharma and the pupils at Ullern. Arctic Pharma is committed to introduce pupils to organic chemistry from a company’s perspective. This provides the students with the chance to get a feel of what it is like to work in a biotech company and to see how their education can be applied.

Chemistry is Exciting
When asked why exactly the pupils should learn chemistry, Dr. Sieng responds with this:

– Organic chemistry is fascinating! It can have many applications such as drug design and development, cosmetics, material development in, for example, rubber, plastics, detergents and paints as well as production of chemicals used in agriculture, to name a few examples.

Next Generation
At Arctic Pharma, Dr. Sieng works in a team of scientists that specialize in different fields important for drug design and development. As a medicinal organic chemist, Dr. Sieng is passionate about his work, and hopes to inspire the new generation of chemists.

–  To keep Norway a world innovator, the field of chemistry is important and we especially need to nourish the next generation of chemists and scientists, hence this collaboration is also important for our country.

Essentially, we need to ensure a future for Norway that will continue to thrive, construct and further the research that will help us continue down the path of innovative discovery. Such a future can only be secured if we continue to unlock the potential that chemistry offers us; a future waiting to be unlocked by the next generation.

Funding Innovation in BioPharma and IT

What kind of work does it take to receive PERMIDES funding for innovative concepts and projects? Meet one of the companies that just received funding. 

 

22 collaboration projects will receive a total of 1,25 Million Euros from PERMIDES for innovation projects between small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from biopharma, bioinformatics and the IT sector. 

One of the lucky companies to receive innovation funding is Oslo Cancer Cluster member Myhere. For MyHere, it was especially important that the PERMIDES initiative is focused on the intersection between BioPharma and IT.

– Working with partners that are specialized in our field makes it easier to communicate the mission we are on, the concrete problems we are trying to solve and to qualify if we are a good match for each other or not. Furthermore, as we learned about the people and companies involved with PERMIDES, we discovered that we could learn a lot from the experiences of other SMEs in the program, says Jon-Bendik Thue, CEO at MyHere.

An innovative health app
MyHere’s mission is mainly carried out through the use of their app. This app, which pinpoints levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) in the bloodstream, enables a clearer outlook on potential prostate cancer and when to promptly, and timely, seek help. Thus, this app creates a balanced overview of prostate cancer that can save the patient and doctor from underdoing and overdoing the process. Essentially, the app is designed to save lives.

 

Essential health data
The funding will enable MyHere to start with a project that manages content from owners of health data. Health data is a tremendous resource, but unfortunately also tremendously underutilized. One important factor is the issue with getting consent from the owner of health data for research purposes. Typically, the owner is the individual the information was generated from, often in the role as a patient.

– As a provider of medical services directly to consumers, while at the same time organizing data across patient journeys, we are in a unique position to help solve the issue with consent for use of data. The funding from PERMIDES will allow us to build a dynamic data owner content management system, that will be integrated into our medical service platform. We are very excited about this project and we look forward to implementing it with our partner FramX, says Thue.

– Without this funding, we would have had to postpone the initiative without knowing when we would be able to realize it. Now we are thrilled that we will be able to hit the ground running right after the short Norwegian summer, he adds.

More winners in this round
Another Oslo Cancer Cluster member that got funding in this PERMIDES call is Arctic Pharma, a small start-up company committed to developing innovative anti-cancer drugs by exploiting the peculiar metabolic features of cancer cells.

These two Oslo Cancer Cluster members were among six Norwegian companies involved in four successful applications for Innovation Voucher funding. All of them will be able to initiate their joint projects in August and expect to see results early next year.

 

International Collaboration in Cancer Innovation

24 oncology innovators from 9 international hubs attended the 6th International Cancer Cluster Showcase in San Diego.

 

The International Cancer Cluster Showcase (ICCS) was born back in 2011 in Washington DC, during the world’s largest biotech conference, BIO International Convention. International cluster managers and representatives from the oncology field in Boston, Toulouse and Oslo met during a networking reception and agreed to team up for a joint initiative to expose their emerging oncology innovators to the global oncology community gathering at BIO.

This idea matured in a stimulating and dynamic annual meeting featuring oncology innovators from several North American and European innovation hubs.


Exciting partnering opportunities
During the  6th edition of ICCS around 200 delegates learned about exciting partnering opportunities pitched by 24 companies from 9 innovation hubs.

Oslo Cancer Cluster was represented by its member companies Oncoimmunity AS and Nordic Nanovector. The two companies presented their preclinical and clinical candidates for treating hematological cancers. Inven2, Norway’ largest tech transfer organisation, gave a glimpse into their growing oncology portfolio.

An overwhelming amount of cutting edge oncology innovations from leading North American and European industry clusters were presented in compact presentations. Poster sessions, networking parts and a final reception allowed the participants to connect and discuss collaboration opportunities.

– I hope that the ICCS 2017 reception was as productive for the participating biotechs as the BIO reception in Washington 6 years ago was for the founders of ICCS, said Jutta Heix, International Advisor at Oslo Cancer Cluster and coordinator for the event.

New Board Members

Our newest board members are officially introduced! 

On the 24th of May in 2017, the general assembly meeting took place and fatefully decided Oslo Cancer Cluster’s newest board members. These members, despite having some big seats to fill, will take on a respectful duty belonging to the board: where professionals in the field function as the governing body for the company.

The Wish
Oslo Cancer Cluster wished to see their new board members possess backgrounds from both the University of Oslo and Oslo’s University Hospital, where experience in innovation and clinical expertise follow. They also wished for a pharmaceutical representative with international involvement. Seeing the results, it seems like the wish came true.

Innovation and Clinical Expertise
Inger Sandlie is one of the new members . She is a professor at the Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, and research group leader at the Department of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital. She is also deputy director of the Centre for Immune Regulation. The centre identifies and investigates novel mechanisms of immune dysregulation to advance the development of therapeutics.

Sandlie has co-authored more than 120 publications, supervised 15 PhDs, received awards for scientific innovation and is co-founder of Nextera A/S and Vaccibody A/S. She presently consults for Syntimmune A/S (Boston, US) as well as Albumedix A/S (Nottingham, UK), and serves on the board of the technology transfer office of the University of Oslo (Inven2) and The Norwegian Radium Hospital Research Foundation.

When asked why, in short, she has become a board member, Sandlie responded:

– I work within a network of scientists and biotechnology companies, and thus I think it’s extremely important to use this network alongside Oslo Cancer Cluster in order to influence positive change, as well as using its potential the best way possible.

Our other newest board member, Professor Øyvind Bruland, has a two decades experience as consultant oncologist at Radiumhospitalet, Oslo University Hospital. His main and tenure position is as professor of clinical oncology, University of Oslo. He specializes in primary bone and soft tissue cancers as well as skeletal metastases brought on by prostate and breast cancer. He has co-authored approximately 200 publications and supervised more than 20 PhD candidates. Bruland is one of the founders of the successful Norwegian biotech companies Algeta and Nordic Nanovector. He is also a co-founder of Oncoinvent.

When asked the same question as Sandlie, Bruland responded:

– I’m impressed with what Oslo Cancer Cluster has accomplished, but I think within certain areas like commercialization, some “new thinking” and support is needed. It’s important that we don’t get lost in bureaucracy.

International Pharma
Our third and final new board member, Benedikte Thunes Akre, has experience as a medical director at AstraZeneca, a global science-led pharmaceutical business with great success. On top of this, Thunes Akre has a long line of experience working with oncology throughout her career. Her response to why she has become a board member, was as follows:

– My main interest and experience throughout my career has been focused on oncology. The field is constantly emerging and I would like to contribute ensuring that Norwegian expertise is seen and recognized nationally as well as internationally, with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of patients.

Future and Past
In addition to the three new board members, Oslo Cancer Cluster is happy to include a new honourable member of the board: Jónas Einarsson. During the last 16 years, he has acted as the CEO for The Radium Hospital Hospital Research Foundation. He is also the founder and former CEO and chairman of the board of Oslo Cancer Cluster and Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park.

The future looks promising with our newest board members. We thank our previous board members, Ingvild Hagen, Professor Svein Stølen, and Professor Gunnar Seter for their great time, effort and contribution!

 

Nominated as “Norway’s smartest industrial company”

Thermo Fisher Scientific is one of three finalists to win the award and title in Oslo this Tuesday.

The technology which the biotech company is nominated for, is development of faster and cheaper DNA-sequencing. More than 70 companies were candidates for this year’s price, according to the Norwegian online tech magazine Teknisk Ukeblad.

Thermo Fisher Scientific is one of Norway´s leading biotechs and among the most profitable. The company has played a vital role in Norwegian biotech with the development of «Dynabeads», used all over the world to separate, isolate and manipulate biological materials.

The smart element
On the question “why are you in the finals”, Ole Dahlberg, CEO at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Norway, is quick to answer.

“We have been capable of combining an established, older technology with another technology, creating maybe the most powerful tool for gene sequencing that we have in the world today”, says Dahlberg.

The smart element was using the beads in a completely new way on a microchip in combination with semiconductor technology. This link between biotech and electronics has created the instruments from Thermo Fisher which we now see in research institutes and diagnostic labs all over the world.

Ole Dahlberg, CEO at Thermo Fischer Scientific Norway, believes in their smart element.

Industrialising technology
What Thermo Fisher did, was to reduce the size of traditional magnetic beads to nano size. This resulted in much more efficient production methods. The number of people involved in the production of the beads, as well as the production time, could thereby be reduced.

Today, one person can produce ten times more beads in a day than 10-15 people could before, due to the new production technology, developed in-house.

Thermo Fisher’s Dynabeads are used in basic research, in billions of diagnostic tests, as well as in immunotherapy, all over the world. Innovation and further applications are being developed in close collaboration with research environments, clinics and industrial partners.

The importance of collaboration
“All the products we have developed, and those are quite a few, are developed in collaboration with academia and the clinical part of hospitals and other companies”, says Dahlberg.

His company has had a close collaboration with OUS Radiumhospitalet and SINTEF, and today it is part of Oslo Cancer Cluster and has offices in the Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.

“We greatly believe in this kind of collaboration. It creates trust. One of the interesting things with the cluster is that it leans over in education. We need a broader interest for biotechnology and life science among the young, and we also recruit a lot of young people”, says Dahlberg.

A smart approach
Thermo Fischer Scientific gets their smart young coworkers directly from Norwegian universities like NTNU and UiO, as well as from abroad.

“We use a smart approach. It is all about putting the team first and making sure that the people who work here are dedicated and proud of our products”, says Dahlberg.

9 May is the day the winner will be announced at the Norwegian conference Industrikonferansen in Oslo, held by the union Norsk Industri, part of NHO.

 

About Thermo Fisher Scientific
Thermo Fisher Scientific in Norway was established in 1986. The company focuses on the diagnostics market as well as the development of innovative immunotherapeutics, especially within oncology. The client portfolio features many of the world’s largest pharma and diagnostics companies. In 2014 the company had 180 employees and a turn-over of 760 MNOK. The company has production units both in Oslo and Lillestrøm. The Norwegian company is a subsidiary to Thermo Fisher Scientific.

 

 

 

Roche with approval for new lung cancer medication

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Roche has received approval for a medication against a specific form for lung cancer by the Norwegian Medicines Agency.  

 

Clinical data from a phase III study of the lung cancer medicine, named Alecensa, also shows significant approved survival for lung cancer patients.

This is important news for younger lung cancer patients because they have few treatments options today, often develop resistance to current standard of care within one year, and experience metastasis to the brain.

The specific form of lung cancer this drug, called Alecensa is approved for, is called anaplastic lymfomkinase (ALK) -positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In Norway lung cancer affects about 3 035 people per year. Of these almost five percent are ALK-positive. This cancer occurs mainly in young people of 50 years and under, with a specific type of non-small cell lung cancer, called adenocarcinoma. They normally smoke little or are non-smokers.

-We are glad that we finally can offer the lung cancer medicine Alecensa as a new treatment for Norwegian patients who no longer respond to the current standard treatment. We continue our efforts to improve research in personalised medicine to meet current unmet medical needs, says Elizabeth Jeffords, CEO of Roche Norway.

 

Clinical trials in Norway
Norwegian lung cancer patients have contributed to this study. Lead investigator in Norway is oncologist Åslaug Helland at Oslo University Hospital, Radium Hospital. She is one of the top ranked experts on this kind of lung cancer disease in Norway.

– Alecensa seems to be a very effective medication and is targeted for patients with ALK-positive lung cancer. About 90 people are diagnosed with this disease each year in Norway. This study has shown that the patients have good effect of the drug, with a long term effect and few side effects, says Helland.

Helland is pleased that a lot of new medications for lung cancer patients have been developed recently. She says this is due to the discovery of the driver-mutations for the disease.

– Lung cancer is the cancer that take the most lives in Norway, and we are glad for study results showing that patients can live longer without the disease worsening. Alecensa has now demonstrated efficacy both as first line therapy and second line therapy after treatment with crizotinib, says Jeffords.

 

About Alecensa
Alecensa (alektinib) is an oral drug, developed by Chugai Kamakura Research Laboratories of patients with non-small cell lung cancer whose tumors are assessed as ALK-positive. ALK-conditional positive, non-small cell lung cancer is often found in younger patients who are non-smokers, or who have previously smoked little. It is almost exclusively found in patients with a specific type of non-small cell lung cancer, called adenocarcinoma.

Alecensa has conditional marketing authorisation for the treatment of advanced (metastatic), ALK-positive, non-small cell lung cancer, where the condition is exacerbated by treatment with crizotinib.

 

Learning about physics in radiotherapy

Join six pupils from Ullern Upper Secondary School to see how physics plays a crucial role in good cancer treatment.

 

A group of interested pupils pay close attention as Taran Paulsen Hellebust explains the recommended radiation dose for a patient with prostate cancer. On a big monitor, she shows how the dose administered by the radiotherapy machine should vary between organs, and what will happen if you increase the dosage or the radiation, or expand the radiation field.

The six upper secondary school pupils ask many good questions. This week, they are spending their school days at the Norwegian Radium Hospital’s Department of Medical Physics, where they are on work placement.

While looking at the screen, they are talking about grey which is a unit of measurement, just like metres and decilitres, for radiation.

All six pupils are studying maths and physics plus either chemistry or biology at Ullern Upper Secondary School, which is only a stone’s throw away from the hospital. Many of them are considering studying medicine, engineering or biotechnology after they graduate this spring. The pupils are Kristian Novsett Borgen, Aurora Opheim Sauar, Edvard Dybevold Hesle, Alexander Lu, Trym Overrein Lunde and Tuva Askmann Nærby.

 

Cooperation on radiation
The pupils get practical insight into topics they have barely touched on during physics lessons. They appreciate getting some insight into working life and seeing how a physicist works.

Hellebust explains how a team comprising a doctor, a radiation therapist and a physicist cooperate on planning a patient’s radiation treatment. If, like many others, you think of physicists as elderly men with unkempt hair running around with their heads full of abstract and incomprehensible formulas, your prejudice has hereby been refuted. The physicists who supervise the pupils and work with radiotherapy on a daily basis are young and know how to entertain their pupils.

 

From brachytherapy to radiotherapy machines
After the pupils have been given an introduction to brachytherapy, physicists Jørund Graadal Svestad and Live Furnes Øyen take them on a tour to see the radiotherapy machines in use in the radiotherapy building. Cancer patients sit in the corridors with family members and friends waiting for their turn, while Jørund explains to the students how the radiotherapy machine is used.

Inside the radiotherapy room, the Geiger counter that Jørund is carrying detects radiation.

‘But it’s a very small amount of radiation, not problematic in any way,’ he says.

The final stop before lunch is a room that could easily be mistaken for the set of the old Norwegian science TV series Fysikk på roterommet. Among other things, it contains an old radiotherapy machine and an old-fashioned ultrasound machine. The pupils have a look and fiddle around with the old machines. They get a chance to feel and see how today’s radiotherapy has developed by leaps and bounds within a relatively short space of time.

‘It’s been great fun and very educational and, not least, we’ve had an opportunity to learn from the experts,’ says one of the pupils.

 

Photo of Oncolmmunity's offices.

OncoImmunity AS wins the EU SME Instrument grant

The bioinformatics company OncoImmunity AS was ranked fourth out of 250 applicants for this prestigious grant.

250 companies submitted proposals to the same topic call as OncoImmunity AS. Only six projects were funded.

We applied for the SME instrument grant as it represents an ideal vehicle for funding groundbreaking and innovative projects with a strong commercial focus. The call matched our ambition to position OncoImmunity as the leading supplier of neoantigen identification software in the personalised cancer vaccine market”, says Dr. Richard Stratford, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of OncoImmunity.


Personalised cancer vaccines
Neoantigen identification software facilitates effective patient selection for cancer immunotherapy, by identifying optimal immunogenic mutations (known as neoantigens). OncoImmunity develops proprietary machine-learning software for personalised cancer immunotherapy.

This solution also guides the design of neoantigen-based personalised cancer vaccines and cell therapies, and enables bespoke products to be developed faster.

The SME Instrument gives us the opportunity to further refine and optimise our machine-learning framework to facilitate personalised cancer vaccine design. This opportunity will help us establish the requisite quality assurance systems, certifications, and clinical validation with our partners, to get our software accredited as an in vitro diagnostic device”, says Dr. Richard Stratford.

In vitro diagnostics are tests that can detect diseases, conditions, or infections.

Dr. Richard Stratford is Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of OncoImmunity, member of Oslo Cancer Cluster and part of the Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.


Hard to get
Horizon 2020’s SME Instrument is tailored for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). It targets innovative businesses with international ambitions — such as OncoImmunity.

“The SME instrument is an acid test; companies that pass the test are well suited to make their business global. It also represents a vital step on the way to building a world-class health industry in Norway”, says Mona Skaret, Head of Growth Companies and Clusters in Innovation Norway.

The SME Instrument has two application phases. Phase one awards the winning company 50 000 Euros based on an innovative project idea. Phase two is the actual implementation of the main project. In this phase, the applicant may receive between 1 and 2,5 million Euros.

The support from the SME instrument is proof that small, innovative Norwegian companies are able to succeed in the EU”, says Mona Skaret.

You can read more about the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument in Norwegian at the Enterprise Europe Network in Norway.

 

Thinking of applying?
Oslo Cancer Cluster helps its member companies with this kind of applications through the EU Advisor Program and close collaboration with Innovayt and Innovation Norway.

The SME Instrument is looking for high growth and highly innovative SMEs with global ambitions. They are developing innovative technologies that have the potential to disrupt the established value networks and existing markets.

Companies applying for the SME Instrument must meet the requirements set by the programme. Please see the SME Instrument website for more information.

Photo of Martin Bonde, Vaccibody

Vaccibody moves forward with HPV-study

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Vaccibody is moving forward with the first vaccination of a patient with the human papillomavirus, HPV-virus, in a phase IIa study using the company´s immunotherapy platform. The primary objectives of the phase IIa study are to assess T cell mediated immune responses in the peripheral blood and to evaluate early signs of efficacy.

-We have been encouraged to see the outcome of the phase I trial and are excited to initiate this phase IIa clinical study. This offers a chance to get information on how patients respond to the Vaccibody immunotherapy platform, says Principal investigator, Prof. Dr. med. Karl Ulrich Petry, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology Klinikum Wolfsburg.

Moreover, the treatment can potentially also cure the underlying HPV infection, Petry comments, and thereby prevent recurrence and may protect from other HPV induced cancers.

 

Will outlicence the vaccine after phase II

– We are pleased to announce the vaccination of the first patient. Surgery is currently the only available therapy to remove abnormal cervical lesions caused by HPV-virus, and thereby stop the progression to cervical cancer, says Martin Bonde, CEO Vaccibody.

Bonde says that the plan is to have enough patients recruited by the end of Q3 and hence the first read out of the data in Q1, 2018.

-As of now we see that we will need a phase IIb/III study involving more patients, maybe up to 150-200. As of now we plan to out licence this product if we see the right responses, says Bonde.

 

About Vaccibody AS

Vaccibody is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel immunotherapies, prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines which target cancer and infectious diseases, for human and veterinary use. Vaccibody’s lead program is focused on VB10.16, a therapeutic DNA vaccine against HPV16 induced pre-malignancies and malignancies. Vaccibody also has a strong focus on so-called cancer neoantigen vaccines and is in late preclinical development with this program.

www.vaccibody.com

 

About Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN) and Cervical Cancer

Per year approximately 530,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and over 275,000 women die of the disease annually. Invasive cervical cancer is preceded by a long phase of pre-invasive disease called Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN). Globally the number of high grade lesions (CIN 2/3) the immediate precursors to malignancy, is estimated to be in the range of 10 million.

Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by high risk HPV types. Among the different high risk HPV types known, HPV16 has been reported to be the most common genotype in high grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. It can be detected in up to 60 % of all cervical cancers, especially in younger women and it has also been found to play an essential role in the development of several other cancer types (approximately 90% of anal cancers; 40% of penile, vaginal, and vulvar cancers; 25% of oral cavity cancers and 35% of oropharyngeal cancers).

Current standard therapy for CIN 2/3 varies between countries and regions and often involves surgical removal of the affected tissue. These invasive procedures are associated with bleeding, infection, cervical stenosis, scarring and most importantly pre-term deliveries in subsequent pregnancies. As a result, there is a significant need for an effective therapeutic vaccine to treat existing HPV infection and associated pre-malignancies and malignancies of the cervix and thereby prevent the development of cervical cancer caused by human papillomavirus.

 

 

 

Utplassering på patologen ga mersmak

Ullern videregående skole har et unikt tilbud til sine elever. Gjennom det skolefaglige samarbeidet med Oslo Cancer Cluster kan de delta på utplasseringer hos medlemmene. Spennende, var gjennomgangstonen da vi besøkte de åtte elevene fra Ullern som denne uken har vært hos avdeling for patologi ved Oslo universitetssykehus. Marie Wahlstrøm  kan godt tenke seg å bli patolog.

 

– Dette er et snitt av en frisk livmorhals, sier Else Skovholt og justerer på mikroskopet slik at cellene i prøven, rosa, hvit og sort i fargen, trer tydelig fra.

Skovholt er patolog og sitter nå omringet av åtte elever fra Ullern videregående skole. De ser alle ned i hvert sitt mikroskop som viser samme bilde som Skovholt har lagt på.

– Men se her. Dette er et snitt av en livmorhals med celleforandringer forårsaket av HPV-virus. Om dere ser her så ser dere normalt vev, og så skjer det en glidende overgang til flere celler som sitter tettere sammen med mange mørke kjerner. Dette kan utvikle seg til kreft og må skjæres bort for ikke å gjøre det, sier Skovholt.

Alle jentene som er på utplassering er vaksinert mot dette viruset, og følger nøye med på gjennomgangen av friskt og sykt vev og hvordan se forskjellene på de ulike cellene som er på snittet.

– Tidligere i dag fikk vi se en livmor. Pasienten som den var fjernet fra ligger fremdeles på Radiumhospitalet rett over veien her, sier Marie Wahlstrøm fra klasse 2STE.

 

Et håndarbeid som viser hvem som er frisk og hvem som er syk

Elevene følge fascinert med ettersom Skovhold skifter ut snitt fra ulike prøver. Neste ut er eggstokker og eggledere, sædlederne og bryst. Rutinert viser hun elevene forskjellene på friskt vev, de ulike celletypene som er byggesteinene i de ulike organene og kreftceller. Spørsmålene er mange og Skovholt svarer enkelt på legspråk slik at alle får med seg alt.

På spørsmål om patolog er et yrke elevene kan tenke seg, er Marie krystallklar.

– Definitivt ja. Dette er et håndarbeid der du jobber praktisk i stedet for å sitte på kontor, du er med på å avgjøre om noen er syk eller frisk, og du vet at pasientene er rett her borte, så det blir veldig nært og føles veldig viktig, sier Wahlstrøm.

Patolog Marius Lund-Iversen bidrar også med sin spesialkunnskap. Over to dager har de åtte elevene tuslet opp i sjette etasje i den blå blokka i Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovasjonspark for å få skreddersydd kunnskap om et yrke som sårt trenger rekruttering.

Elevene har fått lage snitt, tappe eget blod for å analysere det for hvite og røde blodlegemer. De har også sett på ulike organer og hvordan de blir oppbevart på formalin, for så å bli snittet opp slik at de kan studeres i mikroskop.

Utplasseringen hos patologen skjer hvert år. Det er ett av mange tilbud som elever ved Ullern får takket være det skolefaglige samarbeidet mellom Oslo Cancer Cluster og Ullern videregående skole.

 

Targovax ASA moves share listing to Oslo Børs

Targovax ASA’s shares have been accepted to list on Oslo Børs, the main Oslo Stock Exchange. 

Targovax is a clinical stage company, developing immuno-oncology therapies to target treatment-resistant solid tumors. Immuno-oncology is currently one of the fastest growing therapeutic fields in medicine.

Øystein Soug, Chief Executive Officer of Targovax, said in their press release this week:

“This move marks another exciting step for Targovax. Being part of the main market is an important development for the future of the company, giving us access to a larger investor base and helping enhance our visibility. We are pleased to have had the support from the Axess market and are delighted to have been accepted on to the Oslo main market.”

Several milestones
The company has achieved several milestones since it listed its shares on Oslo Axess in July last year:

  • Encouraging top line two-year survival data from the TG01 clinical trial in resected pancreatic cancer patients. Data showed a survival rate of 68 % from the first patient cohort compared to published historical rate of 30-53 %. This suggests a signal of clinical efficacy for the drug candidate.
  • Granting of European patent for ONCOS-102, protecting Targovax’s ONCOS platform lead product until 2029.
  • Strengthening the team with the appointment of Øystein Soug as Chief Executive Officer and the appointment of Erik Digman Wiklund as Chief Financial Officer.
  • Presenting at a number of scientific and investor conferences.

For further information, please contact:
Renate Birkeli, Investor Relations
Phone: +47 922 61 624
Email: renate.birkeli@targovax.com

 

 

 

Kick-Off: Call for Proposals for PERMIDES

The first call for proposals for the PERMIDES project is opening on March 15th. We urge all small and medium sized biopharma-companies working to take the step into the digital era, to apply for funding up to 60 000 Euros.

 

D.B.R.K Gupta Udatha, project manager for PERMIDES, is very happy to kick off the first call for proposals. He wants to help you succeed in this call for proposal by defining the essentials:

‘In your proposals, you should address the innovation barriers and challenges that you experience in the area of personalised medicine. It should be challenges that somehow can be solved by digitalisation’, says Udatha.

 

Developing novel personalised medicine
The voucher funding scheme of PERMIDES is aimed at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from the biopharmaceutical sector developing novel personalised medicine products and solutions (e.g. biotech/medtech companies, diagnostics companies, CROs, biobank companies, bioinformatic companies).

‘To be eligible for funding, project teams must consist of one biopharma SME as the main applicant or beneficiary. In addition, there must be at least one IT SME as a service provider. Potential team partners in the project can be found via the PERMIDES platform, which offers a matchmaking of companies from the biopharmaceutical and IT sectors’, says Udatha.

 

Get more information:

 

Contact:

Jutta Heix, International Advisor
D.B.R.K Gupta Udatha, Project Manager PERMIDES

 

BerGenBio enters collaboration with MSD

Oslo Cancer Cluster member BerGenBio enters collaboration with MSD focused on clinical evaluation of BGB324 in combination with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in advanced lung and breast cancer.

BerGenBio ASA is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel, selective Axl kinase inhibitors for multiple cancer indications. The company recently announced that it has entered into a collaborative agreement with Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA (known as MSD outside the US and Canada) , through a subsidiary, focused on the clinical evaluation of BGB324 with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).

BerGenBio’s lead candidate BGB324 is a first in class, highly selective, potent and orally available small molecule Axl kinase inhibitor in clinical development in a variety of cancer indications. The Axl tyrosine kinase is a key driver of cancer spread, immune evasion and drug resistance – the cause of the majority of cancer-related deaths. Increased understanding of the role of Axl in suppressing innate immunity supports the rationale for evaluating BGB324 in combination with KEYTRUDA.

Under the terms of the collaboration with MSD, BerGenBio will conduct two international Phase II studies to evaluate the potential clinical synergy of combining BGB324 with MSD’s anti-PD-1 therapy, KEYTRUDA. Details of the studies are as follows:

  • BGBC007 – A Phase II multi-centre study of BGB324 in combination with KEYTRUDA in patients with previously treated, locally advanced or unresectable TNBC.
  • BGBC008 – A Phase II multi-centre study of BGB324 in combination with KEYTRUDA in patients with previously treated unresectable adenocarcinoma of the lung.

Biomarker studies will be conducted in parallel to the above studies with the goal of developing companion diagnostics to identify patients who would be most suitable for treatment with the BGB324/KEYTRUDA combination.

The clinical trials will be sponsored by BerGenBio while MSD will provide the trial with KEYTRUDA. The rights to the study results will be shared. No further details are disclosed.

BerGenBio is investigating BGB324 in multiple cancer indications based on preclinical and early clinical findings. Phase II studies with BGB324 as a single agent in relapsed acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and myeloid dysplastic syndrome (MDS); and in combination with erlotinib (TARCEVA®) in advanced EGFR-positive NSCLC are in progress.

Richard Godfrey, Chief Executive Officer of BerGenBio, commented: “We are delighted to enter this collaboration with MSD, a leader in developing novel cancer therapies. This new agreement gives us the opportunity to evaluate the clinical potential of BGB324 in combination with KEYTRUDA in advanced lung and breast cancer; two of the areas of significant unmet medical need. We believe that BGB324 is a unique drug candidate that addresses a critical cancer mechanism responsible for promoting immune evasion. We believe the clinical utility of BGB324 in combination with immunotherapies has enormous potential. BerGenBio is excited to advance BGB324 in combination with KEYTRUDA into Phase II trials and we anticipate results in mid-2018.”

About BerGenBio ASA
BerGenBio (Bergen, Norway) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing a pipeline of first-in-class Axl kinase inhibitors to treat multiple cancer indications. The Company is a world leader in understanding the central role of Axl kinase in promoting cancer spread, immune evasion and drug resistance in multiple aggressive liquid and solid cancers.

BerGenBio’s lead product, BGB324, is a selective, potent and orally available small molecule Axl inhibitor in Phase II clinical development in three major cancer indications. It is the only selective Axl inhibitor in clinical development. BGB324 is being developed by BerGenBio as a single agent therapy in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)/myeloid dysplastic syndrome (MDS) and in combination with TARCEVA® (erlotinib) in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC); and in combination with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in advanced NSCLC and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) in collaboration with MSD.

The Company is also developing a diversified pre-clinical pipeline of selective Axl inhibitors including BGB149, anti-Axl monoclonal antibody.

For further information, please visit: www.bergenbio.com

About NSCLC
It is estimated that more than 220,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the US in 2017 and it is the leading cause of cancer death. 65% of NSCLCs are of adenocarcinoma pathology. Although various treatments exist for NSCLC, they are often curtailed by acquired resistance to therapy and immune evasion. Novel treatments overcoming these mechanisms in NSCLC are urgently required.

About TNBC
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women – it is estimated that more than 250,000 new cases will be diagnosed in the US in 2017. 20% of breast cancers lack receptors for three common hormones (estrogen, progesterone and HER2) and are thus called triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC). Treatment options for TNBC are limited to intense chemotherapy, but despite therapy recurrences are frequent and aggressive. Consequently, novel treatment strategies for TNBC are of high need.

KEYTRUDA® is a registered trademark of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. TARCEVA® is a registered trademark of OSI Pharmaceuticals, LLC.

 

We are hiring an EU Advisor

EU Advisor

We are currently looking for an EU advisor with skills and experience in writing EU funding proposals. This is a fixed term contract with duration to the end of 2018. If successful, this can become a long-term contract after 2018. We are also open to discuss a part-time employment. The EU advisor will report directly to the General Manager of OCC.

Key tasks:

  • Increase awareness of the H2020 funding opportunities and benefits among the cluster members incl. start-ups, SMEs and academic investigators
  • Actively support the cluster members with identifying relevant and appropriate H2020 funding schemes and call topics in 1:1 consulting meetings
  • Assist companies in development of project proposals in H2020 funding instruments
  • Pro-actively use OCC`s strong international network to identify new partners and suitable consortia for cluster members
  • Co-ordinate with other (national or Nordic) funding schemes and innovation agencies for achieving larger synergies and ensuring maximum impact
  • Organization and preparation of events and workshops for stakeholder information, education etc. addressing the needs of the cluster members
  • Development of project proposals to attract funding for OCC and OCC Incubator activities

Key qualifications:

  • Relevant scientific education, oncology background advantageous
  • 3 to 5-year experience in EU project applications and potentially project management
  • Innovation management experience and understanding of the different stakeholders in EU projects (start-ups, SMEs, academic partners, global companies)
  • Strong analytic capabilities and understanding of biomedical R&D, innovation challenges and business models
  • Self-driven, result oriented and disciplined
  • Fluent in written and spoken English

The EU advisor will be part of the Oslo Cancer Cluster team. OCC can offer competitive benefits, a positive working environment and colleagues with a strong drive and passion in the field of expertise. If you have any questions regarding this position, please contact Kelly Scientific and recruitment advisor, Janne Stang, cellphone: + 47 400 37 302. Kelly Scientific is a recruitment agency working with industry related positions within the Life Science sector.

Three new members in Oslo Cancer Cluster

IRW Consulting, Eisai and Personalis, Inc. are all new members of the Oslo Cancer Cluster. Please read more about them below.

 

IRW Consulting AB

IRW is a Nordic Contract Research Organization (CRO) with more than 15 years of experience in conducting clinical trials, Non-Interventional Studies (NIS) and medical device studies. IRW has built an extensive network throughout all Nordic countries, as well as the rest of Europe and the US. Depending on the customer’s requirements, our staff is either outsourced or works with in-house projects. We cover all the stages of clinical development, from phase I to phase IV, including pediatric and non-interventional studies and all classes of medical device investigations.

With regional offices in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, IRW has experienced locally-based staff providing an optimum combination of local knowledge and expertise to assist you conduct your clinical trial as per country specific guidelines. Local presence not just ensures adherence to local requirements for submissions to the Ethic Committees and Regulatory Authorities but also the knowledge of local language facilitates the communication with all local parties involved in the project thereby avoiding possible misunderstandings and reducing approval process timelines.

Working with the full range of companies, from small start-ups to multi-national pharmaceutical corporations, we have learned how to tailor our services to the specific needs of our customers.  Our involvement in clinical trials covers both Europe and the US, always following the appropriate regulations wherever we work, either according to external party’s SOPs or our own.
Home page IRW Consulting AB

 

Personalis, Inc.
Personalis, Inc., was founded in February 2011 out of Stanford University with the mission to provide precision, high accuracy genomic sequencing and analysis to enable precision medicine in the areas of cancer, immuno-oncology, and inherited disease.

Personalis provides researchers and clinicians with highly accurate, comprehensive, and validated DNA and RNA sequencing and interpretation of human genomic data for cancer research, clinical trials, and diagnostics. Our ACE (Accuracy and Content Enhanced) technology goes beyond standard sequencing approaches, substantially increasing medically relevant coverage and accuracy.

Personalis builds on this enhanced sequencing foundation with innovative algorithms and proprietary databases for alignment, variant calling, annotation, and analysis. Through this comprehensive approach, we provide genomic data and interpretation of the highest accuracy. Our CLIA-licensed and CAP-accredited laboratory, in combination with our validated, high accuracy ACE NGS platforms enable seamless transition from discovery to commercialization for our partners.

Home page Personalis, Inc.

 

Eisai

Eisai is a global pharmaceutical company addressing unmet medical needs, and Eisai is committed to make contributions to better healthcare for patients and their families around the world through its business activities.

Eisai has identified neurology and oncology as important areas where there are many diseases for which treatments are still not well established. Concentrating our R&D resources in these areas, Eisai is striving to discover new highly effective treatments especially for neurology and oncology.

Eisai carries out drug discovery research, drug development research and clinical research throughout the world. Eisai pursues innovative new drug discovery by promoting the exchange of various knowledge and ideas from around the world.

Main activities within oncology are within breast cancer and liposarcoma, where Halaven (eribulin) a cytotstatic agent, has shown survival benefit in both tumour types. Halaven is a novel anticancer agent discovered and developed by Eisai, has been launched in Japan, the United States, Europe and Asia.

Lenvima (lenvatinib), a multi targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), discovered and developed by Eisai, received orphan drug status and approval for radio-iodine refractory Differentiated Thyroid Cancer. Kisplyx (lenvatinib) was recently approved by EMA and FDA for use in advanced renal cell carcinoma. We are also involved in research in several other tumours.

Eisai AB is the Nordic affiliate and the Nordic office is in Stockholm.

 

 

 

 

 

Targovax to present at upcoming conferences

Oslo, Norway, 6 March 2017: Targovax ASA (“Targovax” or “the Company”; OSE: TRVX), a clinical stage company focused on developing immuno-oncology therapies to target, primarily, treatment-resistant solid tumors, announces that members of its senior management will present at the following life sciences and investor conferences:

 

10th European Life Science CEO Forum (hosted by Sachs Associates)
Date: 7 March 2017
Venue: Hilton Zurich Airport Hotel, Zurich, Switzerland

Panel discussion time: 11:10 CET – Advances in Immuno-Oncology Therapeutics Panel

– Magnus Jäderberg (CMO)

Presentation time: 12:25 CET

– Øystein Soug (CEO)

 

Redeye – Fight Cancer Seminar
Date: 10 March 2017
Venue: Redeye, Stockholm, Sweden

Presentation time: 10:50 CET

Participants: Øystein Soug (CEO)

 

11th Annual BIO-Equity Spring 2017 Conference
Date: 20-22 March 2017
Venue: CCIB Convention Centre in Barcelona, Spain

Participants: Øystein Soug (CEO) and Peter Skorpil (VP Business Development)

 

The presentations will be available to download at www.targovax.com following these events.

 

For further information, please contact:

Renate Birkeli, Investor Relations

Phone: +47 922 61 624

Email: renate.birkeli@targovax.com

 

Media and IR enquires:

Jan Petter Stiff – Crux Advisers (Norway)

Phone: +47 995 13 891

Email: stiff@crux.no

 

Julia Phillips/Simon Conway – FTI Consulting (International)

Phone: +44 20 3727 1000

Email: Targovax@fticonsulting.com

 

About Targovax

Arming the patient’s immune system to fight cancer

Targovax is a clinical stage company focused on developing and commercializing novel immuno-oncology therapies to target, primarily, treatment-resistant solid tumors. Immuno-oncology is currently one of the fastest growing therapeutic fields in medicine.

The Company’s development pipeline is based on two novel proprietary platforms:

The first platform, ONCOS, uses oncolytic viruses, an emerging class of biological therapy. ONCOS exclusively uses an adenovirus that has been engineered to be a tumor-targeted immune activator. The platform has the potential to generate therapies with superior efficacy and safety compared to the first approved oncolytic virus therapy, Imlygic®, launched by Amgen. We continue to expect key proof of concept data for this platform in 2017 from a clinical study of lead program ONCOS-102 in patients with refractory malignant melanoma.

The second platform, TG-Peptides (TGP), solely targets tumors that express mutated forms of the RAS protein. Mutations to this protein are common in many cancers and are known to drive aggressive disease progression and treatment resistance. There is a high unmet medical need for therapies that are effective against tumors that express these mutations.  The TGP platform’s therapeutic potential stems from its ability to enable a patient’s immune system to identify and then destroy tumors bearing any RAS mutations. In early 2017, key proof of concept data for the TGP platform from a clinical study of TG01 in resected pancreatic cancer patients showed encouraging overall survival and will determine plans for the future clinical development of this platform.

Targovax’s development pipeline has three novel therapeutic candidates in clinical development covering six indications. Already promising safety and tolerability data and early signs of clinical response have been demonstrated.

Both platforms are protected by an extensive portfolio of IP and know-how and have the potential to yield multiple product candidates in a cost-effective manner. We have a number in early stages of development in addition to the three outlined above.

In July, 2016 the Company listed its shares on Oslo Axess.

This information is subject to the disclosure requirements pursuant to section 5-12 of the Norwegian Securities Trading Act.

– Join our online communities

Oslo Cancer Cluster has a new Head of Communications. She wants to help you reach out.

 

– One of the benefits of being a part of this cluster, is that you have me to help you out with communications, says Wenche Gerhardsen.

She is the new Head of Communications at Oslo Cancer Cluster. Wenche has a background as a journalist and a communications advisor within research and development. She worked as a senior advisor at The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) before she started here in February 2017.

– Good communications is a tool we can use to better collaborations. We wish to help cluster members collaborate better – both with other members and with companies and academia outside the cluster.

 

Do you know our channels?
We have many communications channels that are wide open to members and others interested in our work. Check out our:

– Are you not part of our online community yet? Join in! I would love to see more active members in there.

You can contact Wenche in all the social media channels listed above and also on good old fashioned e-mail: wg@oslocancercluster.no

Former Head of Communications, Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen, is now working as a consultant for the Oslo Cancer Cluster on communication through her own company. Andersen is also working as a communication consultant for Inven2, as well as serving as communication manager for the Radium Hospital Research Foundation.

 

 

Podcast on cancer research and development

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Radium Hospital Research Foundation, Radforsk, has launched their own podcast. The podcast is named Radium, and is about cancer research and development of new cancer treatments, as well as updates on Radforsk´s portfolio companies.

Radium has so far made nine episodes, and the ambition of Jónas Einarsson, CEO Radforsk and Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen, communication manager in Radforsk, is to make one new episode a week. The podcasts are in Norwegian, if they do not interview people from abroad, as they did in the Cancer Crosslinks special.

Einarsson and Andersen is usually joined by guests in the studio, and so far they have had guests from Oslo Cancer Cluster members; PCI Biotech, Ultimovacs, Targovax, Vaccibody, Oncoinvent, as well as Roy Larsen and Øyvind Bruland, talking about Algeta, Nordic Nanovector and Oncoinvent.

Upcoming epiosodes will include guests such as Professor Håvard Danielsen from Institute for Cancer Genetics and Informatics, Anne Lise Ryel, General Secretary in the Norwegian Cancer Society and CEO, Kjetil Hestdal in Photocure.

Here you may find all podcast episodes launched so far.

Targovax ASA: Fourth quarter and full year 2016 results

Oslo, Norway, 16 February 2017 – Targovax ASA (“Targovax” or “the Company”; OSE: TRVX), a clinical stage company focused on developing immuno-oncology therapies to target solid tumors, today announces its fourth quarter and full year 2016 results.

A meeting for investors, analysts and press will take place in Oslo today at 10:00 CET and a conference call will take place at 14.00 CET (details below).

Highlights:

Targovax was granted a European Patent for the ONCOS platform lead product, ONCOS-102, extending patent coverage following the award of a similar US patent in June. These patents expire in 2029

Øystein Soug was appointed as CEO on 1 November

Targovax presented at a number of scientific and investor conferences in the period, including the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy in October in Florence, Biotech and Money in November in London, and the DNB Nordic Healthcare Conference in December in Oslo

Net loss for the fourth quarter 2016 was NOK 32 million (USD 4 million), compared with a net loss of NOK 44 million (USD 5 million) in corresponding quarter in 2015

Cash and cash equivalents at 31 December 2016 was NOK 172 million (USD 20 million) vs NOK 193 million (USD 24 million) at 30 September 2016
Subsequent events:

Targovax announced encouraging top line two-year survival data from TG01 clinical trial in resected pancreatic cancer patients

Erik Digman Wiklund was appointed CFO of Targovax, succeeding Øystein Soug, the Company’s new CEO, and will take up this role in April 2017
Øystein Soug, CEO said: “2016 was a successful year for Targovax. During the year we listed our shares on Oslo Axess, we successfully raised funds to finance the clinical trial program and we were granted European and US patents for ONCOS-102, extending the protection till 2029. Furthermore, in 2016 we prepared and set up five new clinical trials in five indications. 2017 will be an even more important year as we start harvesting the data from these trials. We have already generated good momentum as we recently announced encouraging overall survival data in our TG01 proof of concept trial. We also expect to start a proof of concept trial of ONCOS-102 in checkpoint inhibitor refractory melanoma, where key interim data are expected later in the year.”
Presentation

The presentation will take place at 10:00 CET at:

Hotel Continental

Stortingsgaten 24/26

0117 Oslo

 

The presentation will also be webcast live and can be accessed here.

 

Conference call

At 14:00 CET (08:00 EST) The company will host a telephone conference which will include a presentation of the results, following a Q&A session. CEO Øystein Soug and CMO Magnus Jäderberg will present the company. Call in details can be found below.

Call-in numbers:

Norway Toll-Free Number: 800 19 747

Norway Toll Number: +472350 0559

UK Toll-Free Number: 08082370030

UK Toll Number: +442031394830

US Toll-Free Number: 1866 928 7517

US Toll Number: +1 718 873 9077

 

Access code: 54717166#

 

Please make sure to dial in at least 5-10 minutes ahead to complete your registration.

 

See attached list for more dial-in numbers.

 

Reporting material

The quarterly report and presentation are also available here

 

For further information, please contact

Øystein Soug, CEO

Phone: +47 906 56 525

Email: oystein.soug@targovax.com

 

Media and IR enquires:

Jan Petter Stiff – Crux Advisers (Norway)

Phone: +47 995 13 891

Email: stiff@crux.no

 

Julia Phillips/Simon Conway – FTI Consulting (International)

Phone: +44 20 3727 1000

Email: Targovax@fticonsulting.com

 

Targovax fourth quarter 2016 report
Targovax fourth presentation 2016 report

Apply now for Startup Slam at BIO-Europe Spring!

Are you a startup or entrepreneur in Healthcare or Life-Sciences? If yes – keep reading! 

Startup Slam is a pitching competition offering innovative entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their company at BIO- Europe Spring. Selected companies will have the opportunity to attend one of the leading partnering events in the global biotechnology industry.

– Startup Slam is a fantastic event that provided global exposure and interest in EpiAxis.  It showcases small startups with emerging and transformational technologies, which drives the engine of innovation. In addition, Startup Slam helped me to focus and hone my pitch to potential collaborators and investors with a clearer value proposition, says Dr Jeremy S Chrisp, CEO, EpiAxis Therapeutics: Winner of StartupSlam16 Cologne.

 

Why Pitch at BIO-Europe’s Startup Slam?

·        Receive pitch training from a speaking coach

·        Increase your company’s visibility by pitching to industry executives and investors

·        Receive a significantly discounted registration & presentation fee

Deadline is February 24th and Startup Slam is March 21st. What are you waiting for? Apply to join here.

 

Photocure – full year report

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Photocure ASA  reported that full year 2016 revenues ended at NOK 143.6 million (134.7). Photocure targets revenues from the US operations to quadruple to a range of USD 15 million by 2020.

“2016 was a positive year for Photocure as we continued to build momentum in the US with Cysview. A significant milestone was reached by the inclusion and recommendations of Cysview in National treatment guidelines in the US. In addition, several papers including strong new clinical evidence supporting the use of Hexvix/Cysview were published during 2016. These events, together with the increase in installed base of Blue Light enabled Cystoscopes in the US and a higher level of patient awareness, provide us with confidence that our planned increase in investment in the US commercial urology franchise will create value for our shareholders in the future. Lastly, we are also looking forward to receiving results from our expanded use Phase 3 study in the US with the Karl Storz flexible scope in the surveillance setting in the middle of the year.” said Kjetil Hestdal, President and CEO.

Photocure reported total revenues of NOK 38.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 (34.5), with an EBITDA of NOK -0.3 million (-8.7). Net profit was NOK 17.9 million (-9.4), while the cash position ended at NOK 169.2 million. Hexvix/Cysview revenues grew 13% for the full year but declined 5% in the fourth quarter mainly due to inventory reductions at distributors, as well as a negative impact from foreign exchange rates. In-market unit sales increased with 3% in the quarter.

“Photocure has built considerable experience in the urology sector through its Hexvix/Cysview franchise and sees significant long-term value creation potential in this market segment. The company has over the last years experienced a strong and growing penetration of Hexvix in key European markets and aims to capitalize on the inclusion in the AUA guidelines as well as the increased patient awareness to significantly increase penetration in the US market. Photocure does however believe that in order to increase market shares in the US to European levels, an investment in the US salesforce is required,” said Hestdal.

The company will therefore double its salesforce and increase sales and marketing expenses accordingly towards the end of 2017. The company believes these efforts will result in revenues from the US operations to quadruple to a range of USD 15 million by 2020.

“As a result of the increased activity level, the added operating expenses will contribute to an EBITDA decline for the group in 2017 and 2018. Photocure is fully funded for this market strategy. Photocure has also completed enrollment in its Phase 3 study of Hexvix/Cysview in the surveillance patient segment and expect to report clinical results in mid-2017. The company will then submit an sNDA to the US FDA, with a possible approval in 2018 for use of Blue Light Flexible Cystoscopy with Cysview in this setting,“ Hestdal concludes.

Photocure is continuing its discussions and due diligence processes with potential partners to establish strategic partnerships for its non-urology products, Visonac and Cevira.

 

Record high attendance at Cancer Crosslinks – watch and dowload presentations

Cancer Crosslinks is now one of the most relevant meetings for Norwegian oncologists, with 300 delegates attending this year.

The 9th Cancer Crosslinks meeting took place at Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park January 26. It was a great success, gathering the Norwegian Oncology Community with a record high attendance of 300 delegates. They came to learn from each other.

– We strongly believe in bringing oncology professionals from various fields together, so that they can exchange knowledge and get to know one another. In doing so, Cancer Crosslinks could contribute to developing new cancer treatments, since this requires collaboration across both medical disciplines and country borders, says Ketil Widerberg, general manager at Oslo Cancer Cluster.

The delegates were mainly oncologists and hematologists. These two professions have traditionally had little interaction, and there is a need to exchange knowledge between these two groups. In addition, there were many other researchers in oncology among the participants, as well as participants from biotechnology companies that develop cancer treatment.

 

Download the presentations

For those of you who missed the event or would like to revisit:

You may watch most of the presentations here:

You can download presentations from the meeting here:

  • Jerome Galon : Opening Keynote – Cancer and Inflammation.
    Prof. Jérôme Galon, Ph.D., Research Director at INSERM; Leader of the INSERM Integrative Cancer Immunology Laboratory, Cordeliers Research Center, Paris, France
  • Seth Coffelt: International Keynote – Inflammation lights the way to metastasis.
    Dr. Seth B. Coffelt, Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow,
  • JRMarchesi: International Keynote – The gut microbiota, inflammation and cancer
    Prof. Julian Marchesi, Imperial College London, UK
  • WWierda: International Keynote: Hematological cancers: how individualized can we treat patients today?
    Prof. William G. Wierda, M.D., Ph.D.; Department of Leukemia, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA
  • Anna Schuh: International Keynote: The role of clinical -omics for precision medicine approaches in hematology
    Dr. Anna Schuh, Director of Molecular Diagnostics in the Department of Oncology; Honorary Consultant Hematologist at Oxford University Hospitals Trust, UK
  • Guttorm Haraldsen: Inflammation Research in Norway –  core expertise and collaboration opportunities
    Prof. Guttorm Haraldsen, KG Jebsen Inflammation Research Center, Oslo

 

Cancer  and the micro environment
They came to listen to and learn from leading Norwegian and international experts from the US and Europe. One of them was professor Julian Marchesi from Imperial College in London. He gave an exciting talk about the research on cancer, inflammation and the gut microbiota, showing results of how what we eat can affect the gut microbiota and hence cancer development.

Professor Jerome Galon from INSERM Integrative Cancer Immunology Laboratory, Cordeliers Research Center in Paris added to the discussion with a key note talk on the immune micro environment on cancer and a method called Immunoscore[3] .

– Immunoscore is a way to classify cancer patients based on immune parameters . It is then possible to classify patients into high- and low risk groups, says Galon in the podcast Radium.

 

The best treatment for each patient

Professor William G. Wierda from MD Anderson Cancer Centre was another keynote speaker. As an expert in leukemia, he gave insight to the field of precision medicine within hematological cancers. He raised a debate on the question: how individualized can we treat patients today?

Norwegian projects and approaches were also discussed at the meeting. Professor Guttorm Haraldsen, head of KG Jebsen Inflammation Research Center in Oslo gave an overview of Norwegian research and core expertise in the inflammation area. He highlighted opportunities for collaboration with the oncology field.

Another Norwegian example is a project between Dr. Yngvar Fløisand, Senior Consultant, and Dr. Jorrit Enserink, group leader at Oslo University Hospital. They introduced the screening of samples from patients with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (ALM), to identify the best treatment for each patient. Finally, there was a panel discussion with leading Norwegian experts on the ways forward from data generation to clinical use.
On the previous evening, the delegates participated in thematic roundtables and meetings between Norwegian and international experts. This provided some insight into possible international collaboration in and across their fields of expertise.

 

10 years anniversary next year

This 9th Cancer Crosslinks meeting was kindly sponsored by Oslo Cancer Cluster members  Bristol-Myers Squibb  and AbbVie.

You can look forward to the upcoming Cancer Crosslinks Anniversary Editions: The next Swedish Cancer Crosslinks  meeting will be held in Lund, October 25th (the date will be confirmed) this year and the 10th Norwegian edition will be in Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovations Park in January 2018.

The Economist & Oslo Cancer Cluster: War on Cancer Nordics

Oslo Cancer Cluster is proud to be partner of The Economist Events War On Cancer Nordics.

The War on Cancer Nordics 2017 in Oslo will gather leaders in oncology from the Nordic region and beyond, to discuss the region’s primary challenges in cancer care and control. The event will bring together policy makers, NGOs, academia, research and health care professionals, patient groups and cancer control institutes with private sector business leaders.

 

Questions we will answer

  • How much does cancer cost the Nordic countries per year both in terms of treatment costs and its impact on the labour market?
  • Would a unified Nordic oncology framework be desirable? 
  • What can be learnt from countries that have made more progress in prevention initiatives? 
  • How could research in immuno-oncology be scaled across the region to improve outcomes for patients? 
  • What role will new technologies play in shaking up cancer care, from prevention, through diagnosis, to treatment and to optimise symptoms and quality of life?

 

Founding sponsor: The Research Council og Norway and silver sponsor: Roche

Oncoinvent closes $ 25 Million Private Placement

Our portfolio company Oncoinvent announced today the closing of a 210 MNOK (approx. 25 MUSD) private placement of ordinary shares. Financing will support development of Radspherin™, a novel radiotherapeutic treatment for peritoneal carcinomatosis.

Large privately owned investment companies joining the Company as new investors include Geveran Trading Co. Ltd., Canica AS, CGS Holding AS, Helene Sundt AS and Must Invest AS. Oncoinvent AS is developing therapeutics to combat various cancers based on delivery of tumour-cell killing doses of radiation and/or immunotargeting of tumor cells.

“We are pleased at the response that we have received from the investment community regarding our private placement. The round was heavily oversubscribed. With this financing round we now have, in addition to the new funding, a shareholder base in the company that will enable Oncoinvent to bring Radspherin™ to a clinical proof of concept.” said Jan A. Alfheim, Oncoinvent’s CEO.

About Radspherin™
Radspherin™ is a novel alpha-emitting radioactive microsphere designed for treatment of metastatic cancers in body cavities. The radium based therapeutic, Radspherin™ has shown strong and consistent anticancer activity without any visible signs of product related toxicity in preclinical studies. It is anticipated that the product can potentially treat several forms of metastatic cancer.

The first clinical indication for Radspherin™ will be treatment of peritoneal carcinomatosis originating from ovarian cancer. Peritoneal carcinomatosis is one of the most serious complications of gastrointestinal and gynecological malignancies.

About Oncoinvent
Oncoinvent AS is a privately held Norwegian company based in Oslo, Norway. The company is committed to developing new innovative products in order to provide better treatment options to cancer patients.

The company’s founders started Oncoinvent in 2010 with a view to designing better cancer treatments by applying known physical and chemical principles of selected novel materials in new ways in order to maximize their medical benefit while minimizing potential safety concerns. This approach has allowed the company to develop a rich development pipeline and to explore multiple technological avenues before selecting a lead product candidate for preclinical testing.

www.oncoinvent.com

 

7 Oslo Cancer Cluster members granted funding from the Research Council

The Norwegian Research Council recently granted  funding to Oslo Cancer Cluster members; BerGenBio, Bionor Immuno, GE Healthcare, Lytix Biopharma, PCI Biotech, Zelluna  and Phoenix Solutions through the Programme for User-Driven Research Based Innovation (BIA).

In total, the Research Council will grant 406 MNOK  to 42 Norwegian companies in this application round. A total of 187 applications was filed.

Overview of member companies and their funded projects:

Funding from the  BIA programme is a quality stamp since the companies compete in “open class” where all sectors are represented. On the Research Council`s website you may find the total list of all the 42 companies (in Norwegian) and read more about the funding from the BIA-programme.

Targovax with full year report

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Targovax will announce its fourth quarter and full year 2016 results on Thursday, 16 February 2017. A presentation by Targovax’s management to investors, analysts and the press will take place in Oslo at 10:00 CET.

The results report and the presentation will be available at www.targovax.com in the Investors section from 07:00 CET.

Presentation

The presentation will take place at 10:00 CET at Hotel Continental. The presentation will also be webcast live and can be accessed through www.targovax.com.

 

 

 

About Targovax

Targovax is a clinical stage company focused on developing novel immuno-oncology therapies to target, primarily, treatment-resistant solid tumors. Immuno-oncology is currently one of the fastest growing therapeutic fields in medicine.

 

The Company’s development pipeline has arisen from two novel proprietary platforms:

The first platform, ONCOS, uses oncolytic viruses, an emerging class of biological therapy. ONCOS exclusively uses an adenovirus that has been engineered to be a tumor-targeted immune activator. The platform has the potential to generate therapies with superior efficacy and safety compared to the first approved oncolytic virus therapy, Imlygic, recently launched by Amgen. We expect proof of concept data related to immune activation in tumor tissue in 2017 from the clinical trial of ONCOS-102 in combination wih CPI in patients with refractory malignant melanoma.

The second platform, TG-Peptides, solely targets tumors that express mutated forms of the RAS protein. Mutations to this protein are common in many cancers and are known to drive aggressive disease progression and treatment resistance. There is a high unmet medical need for therapies that are effective against tumors that express these mutations. The TG platform’s therapeutic potential stems from its ability to enable a patient’s immune system to identify and then destroy tumors bearing any RAS mutations.

The development pipeline has three novel therapeutic candidates in clinical development covering six indications and has already demonstrated promising safety and tolerability data and early signs of clinical response.

Both platforms are protected by an extensive portfolio of IP and know-how and have the potential to yield multiple product candidates in a cost effective manner. Our portfolio of future opportunities comprises a number of early stage development candidates in addition to the three outlined above.

In July 2016 the Company listed its shares on Oslo Axess, securing funding for further development of the Company’s ongoing and planned trials.

 

 

Lytix Biopharma granted 15.9 MNOK from The Research Council of Norway

Lytix Biopharma, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel cancer immune therapies, has been awarded a NOK 15.9 million grant from The Norwegian Research Council (User-driven Research-based Innovation) to support the investigation of LTX-315’s ability to make ’’cold tumors hot’’ and Phase II trial in Triple Negative Breast cancer (TNBC).

Recent developments in immunotherapy have demonstrated a significant clinical impact in the field of cancer treatment. However, it is well known that immune therapy works better when there are immune effector cells present in the tumour microenvironment compared to if they are absent. When the tumour lacks immune effector cells, they are called “cold” and when immune effector cells are present they are named “hot”. Preclinical studies have shown that the Lytix compound LTX-315 has the potential  to make cold tumours hot and thus increase the overall patient response of combinations with other cancer treatments, for example immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Forty-two patients have so far been treated with LTX-315 alone, in two Phase I trials, and positive signals from these patients form the basis for this project. The primary objective for this project is to document in both preclinical and clinical studies that LTX-315 increase the infiltration of immune effector cells in the tumour and make the “cold” tumour “hot” in combination with immunotherapy. The clinical study will be performed in patients with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, a subtype of breast cancer. These patients have today limited treatment possibilities and the medical need for better treatments is high.

Håkan Wickholm, CEO of Lytix Biopharma says, -We are very pleased that the Research Council shares our view of the potential of LTX-315 and supports our work to give cancer patients a better treatment response.

Targovax announces encouraging top line two-year survival data from TG01 clinical trial in resected pancreatic cancer patients

Survival rate of 68% from first patient cohort vs published historical rate of 30-53% suggests signal of clinical efficacy for the drug candidate. Full data set from first patient cohort to be submitted for presentation at ASCO annual meeting in June.

Oslo, Norway, 2 February 2017 – Targovax ASA (“Targovax” or “the Company”; OSE: TRVX), a clinical stage company focused on developing immuno-oncology therapies to target solid tumors, today announces encouraging overall survival data from an analysis of the first cohort of patients in its ongoing, phase I/II clinical trial evaluating TG01 (co-administered with GM-CSF[1]) in resected pancreatic cancer given in combination with chemotherapy, gemcitabine, the current standard of care, study CTTG01-01.
Data from this patient cohort showed that 68% of evaluated patients (13/19) were still alive after two years if survival is counted from time of resection which occurred on average two months prior to first treatment, or 12/19 if counted from time of first treatment. While the cohort is small and there is no control arm, this rate compares favorably with the available published historical two-year survival rates of resected cancer patients treated with gemcitabine alone of between 30% and 53% (J Neoptolemos 2010, J van Loethem 2010, H Oettle 2013, M Sinn 2015, K Uesaka 2016; In these reported studies Overall Survival measured either from surgery or treatment randomization).
Dr Magnus Jäderberg, Chief Medical Officer of Targovax commented, -We are encouraged by the two-year overall survival rate of patients treated with TG01 in this trial, versus the expected rate from published historical data when treating with gemcitabine alone, the current standard of care. Whilst acknowledging the small size of this first patient cohort and the lack of a control arm, we are encouraged by what seems to be a signal of efficacy in this highly malignant and difficult to treat cancer. This key milestone for Targovax also triggers a further iteration of plans for the future clinical development of TG01. We have submitted an abstract to the ASCO annual meeting in June when we plan to present the full data.
CTTG01-01 is an open label study conducted in four centres in the UK and Norway. A first cohort of 19 patients each received 36 injections of TG01/GMCSF synchronised with six cycles of gemcitabine and have now completed the study. The main objectives of the study are an assessment of safety and immune activation. The secondary objective is to assess efficacy (disease-free survival and overall survival) at two years. The Company has received consent to enable the reporting of overall survival for all patients in the cohort. CTTG01-01 has been financially supported, in part, by The Research Council of Norway and Innovation Norway.
TG01 is Targovax’s first product to arise from its TG-Peptide platform. The platform yields injectable peptide-based onco-immunotherapies that are designed to treat patients whose tumors express RAS mutations. These mutations are associated with poor prognosis when present. By inducing immune responses in such cancer patients, TG-peptide immunotherapies have the potential to prolong the time to disease progression and to increase survival. RAS mutations are common in a number of cancers. Published data reports 85% of pancreatic cancer cases have such mutations.

For further information, please contact:
Renate Birkeli, Investor Relations
Phone: +47 922 61 624
Email: renate.birkeli@targovax.com

Media and IR enquires:
Jan Petter Stiff – Crux Advisers (Norway)
Phone: +47 995 13 891
Email: stiff@crux.no

Julia Phillips/Simon Conway – FTI Consulting (International)
Phone: +44 20 3727 1000
Email: Targovax@fticonsulting.com

Lytix Biopharma granted 15.9 MNOK from The Norwegian Research Council

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Lytix Biopharma has been awarded a NOK 15.9 million grant from The Norwegian Research Council (User-driven Research-based Innovation) to support the investigation of LTX-315’s ability to make ’’cold tumors hot’’ and Phase II trial in Triple Negative Breast cancer (TNBC).

Recent developments in immunotherapy have demonstrated a significant clinical impact in the field of cancer treatment. However, it is well known that immune therapy works better when there are immune effector cells present in the tumour microenvironment compared to if they are absent. When the tumour lacks immune effector cells, they are called “cold” and when immune effector cells are present they are named “hot”. Preclinical studies have shown that the Lytix compound LTX-315 has the potential  to make cold tumours hot and thus increase the overall patient response of combinations with other cancer treatments, for example immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Forty-two patients have so far been treated with LTX-315 alone, in two Phase I trials, and positive signals from these patients form the basis for this project. The primary objective for this project is to document in both preclinical and clinical studies that LTX-315 increase the infiltration of immune effector cells in the tumour and make the “cold” tumour “hot” in combination with immunotherapy. The clinical study will be performed in patients with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, a subtype of breast cancer. These patients have today limited treatment possibilities and the medical need for better treatments is high.

Håkan Wickholm, CEO of Lytix Biopharma says: ‘We are very pleased that the Research Council shares our view of the potential of LTX-315 and supports our work to give cancer patients a better treatment response.’’

www.lytixbiopharma.com

Phoenix Solutions granted NOK 15.8 million from the Research Council of Norway

Our member Phoenix Solutions has been granted NOK 15.8 million from the Research Council of Norway to the project “ACT for Pancreatic Cancer”.

The main goal of the project is to provide clinical proof-of-concept for Phoenix`s Acoustic Cluster Therapy (ACT®) technology, in a study where ACT® is combined with current standard of care chemotherapy for treatment of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Prior to start clinical trials, the project will also include further preclinical work, establishment of GMP manufacture and execution of regulatory safety studies.

“This funding will enable us to push on with our project to fight pancreatic cancer and meet a key developmental milestone; execution of a clinical phase I/IIa program from mid-2018. Together with partners at Institute of Cancer Research / Royal Marsden Hospital (UK) and Haukeland University Hospital, we strongly believe that ACT® can make a significant difference for patients with this hard to treat, deadly disease.”, says CEO in Phoenix Solutions, Per Sontum.

The project will be initiated in Q1 2017 and run for four years. The grant will cover approx. 35% of the project costs. The grant is subject to final contract negotiations.

Established in 2006, the BIA programme is the largest industry-oriented programme at the Research council of Norway (Forskningsrådet). This broad-based programme supports high-quality R&D projects with good business and socio-economic potential.

About Phoenix Solutions: 

Phoenix Solutions is a Norwegian biotech company sprung out from GE Healthcare in 2013, currently developing a technology platform for targeted drug delivery – Acoustic Cluster Therapy (ACT®). ACT® is a unique approach to ultrasound mediated, targeted drug delivery – capable of enhancing significantly the clinical utility of a wide range of therapeutic molecules and nano-drugs for a wide range of clinical indications. Its primary mode of action is in defeating the vascular barrier, enhancing extravasation, distribution and uptake of drug in the targeted tissue, thereby increasing efficacy and/or reducing toxicity.

ACT® is generally indicated towards diseases where current clinical practice treats known, localized pathologies (e.g. solid tumours) with medicinal therapy, and where Standard of Care is being limited from an inability to deliver sufficiently high concentrations of drug to the tumour without excessive systemic toxicity. Phoenix is currently targeting the oncology segment, looking in particular at pancreatic, liver, triple negative breast and prostate cancers, and has extremely promising preclinical results so far.

www.phoenixsolutions.no  

PCI Biotech granted NOK 13.8 million from the Research Council

Our member PCI Biotech has been granted NOK 13.8 million to the project “Photochemical vaccination – novel immunotherapy concept for treatment of cancer and infectious diseases”.

The main goal of the project is to document in a proof-of-principle clinical study in cancer patients that PCI Biotech’s photochemical internalization (PCI) technology can be used to improve the efficacy of a therapeutic cancer vaccine. Other important aspects of the project is to develop the PCI technology for use in vaccination against certain types of viral and bacterial infections, and to explore the technology for use with mRNA-based vaccination.

‘This grant supports further development of the promising fimaVacc technology, as well as the important vaccination application of the fimaNAc technology. Both of these applications are well suited for the development of new types of immunotherapy against cancer, and also for the prevention and treatment of some types of infectious diseases, including certain types of chronic virus infections. We are very pleased to see that the expert evaluators and the Research Council share our view on the potential of these technologies.’ says CEO in PCI Biotech, Per Walday.

The project will be initiated in Q3 2017 and run for three and a half years. The grant will cover up to 35% of the project costs and the project will be implemented in the company’s current plans. The grant is subject to final contract negotiations.

Established in 2006, the BIA programme is the largest industry-oriented programme at the Research council of Norway (Forskningsrådet). This broad-based programme supports high-quality R&D projects with good business and socio-economic potential.

About PCI Biotech
PCI Biotech is a biopharmaceutical company focusing on development and commercialisation of novel therapies for the treatment of cancer through its innovative photochemical internalisation (PCI) technology platform. PCI is applied to three distinct anticancer paradigms: fimaChem (enhancement of chemotherapeutics for localised treatment of cancer), fimaVacc (T-cell induction technology for therapeutic vaccination), and fimaNAc (nucleic acid therapeutics delivery).

www.pcibiotech.no

Cancer Crosslinks 2017 will be streamed

Cancer Crosslinks 2017 on January 26th features a really interesting program with presentations from international and Norwegian thought leaders within cancer research.

For those of you that may not be present at the conference in the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, you may watch the presentations as we will live stream from 9:15 – 16:15.

Close to 250 participants from all over Norway have signed up for this years Cancer Crosslinks. The program for the 9. th Cancer Crosslinks is divided in three parts; recent findings regarding cancer & inflammation, personalised cancer medicine within hematological cancers and the emerging field of real-world evidence.

Cancer Crosslinks is hosted by Oslo Cancer Cluster and sponsored by BMS and AbbVie.

Five members granted funding by Innovation Norway

To stimulate collaboration between companies in the Oslo Cancer Cluster, we have through Innovation Norway´s funding scheme *Innovasjonsrammen*  granted five member companies project funding between NOK 500.00 – 100.000,-.

PCI Biotech, Ultimovacs, Arctic Pharma, Oncoimmunity and MyHere are the said companies, and they  will all use the funding to develop improved cancer treatments. Read more about the projects below.

Ketil Widerberg, CEO of Oslo Cancer Cluster, commented: “Oslo Cancer Cluster encourages collaboration between companies. We highly appreciate that Innovation Norway has a funding scheme like *Innovasjonsrammen* that enables us to fund  projects that may drive collaboration and innovation to develop innovativ cancer treatments.”

 

Joint project PCI Biotech and Ultimovacs:
PCI Biotech (OSE: PCIB), a cancer focused biopharmaceutical company, and it’s partner Ultimovacs, a pharmaceutical company developing novel immunotherapy against cancer, received funding of NOK 500.000,- for further development of the existing preclinical research collaboration. The purpose of the collaboration is to utilise the companies’ complementary scientific platforms to explore potential synergies and the grant will support these activities.
Read press release here.

 

Arctic Pharma and Oslo University
Arctic Pharma’s main objective is to develop therapies for breast cancer (triple-negative subtypes) that to date have non-specific treatments and the poorest survival outcome. Arctic Pharma will create therapies that kill cancer cells by attacking the core of their metabolism, and was granted NOK 100.000,- in their effort together with University og Oslo, to test and characterize their most promising therapies, which they are in the process of patenting.

 

 

OncoImmunity and partners
OncoImmunity provides innovative software solutions to guide the discovery of neoantigen-based personalized immunotherapies and biomarkers. One of the major challenges to overcome is the accurate identification of immunogenic peptides in the tumor, and their precise constellation on a personalized vaccine. In this project OncoImmunity and partners were granted NOK 300.000,- to develop a software framework to predict the peptides that confer maximum immunogenicity with minimum autoimmune side-affects to a patient.

 

Myehere and partners
Myhere and partners were granted NOK 100.000,- for a pilot study.

 

Dehns is now member of the Oslo Cancer Cluster

Dehns Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys recently joined the Oslo Cancer Cluster.

Dehns is one of Europe’s largest firms of patent and trade mark attorneys and has a 40 year history of working with Norwegian organisations such as: Dynal, Inven2,Lytix Biopharma, Nextera, NMBU, NTNU, Nycomed, PCI Biotech and Photocure.

As members, our aim is to advise and help protect the other members needs regarding innovations and intellectual property (IP) around cancer research, diagnosis and treatment.

With experts in this field, many of whom also have PhDs, we can help you build and manage your IP portfolio and strategy, including providing advice on the patentability of inventions, draft and file patent applications, represent you in opposition and other contentious proceedings, as well as advise on academia-industry collaborations and licensing agreements.

www.dehns.com

 

The PCI Biotech and Ultimovacs collaboration awarded NOK 500,000 from Innovation Norway

The PCI Biotech and Ultimovacs collaboration awarded NOK 500,000 from Innovation Norway

Oslo (Norway), 6 January 2017 – PCI Biotech (OSE: PCIB), a cancer focused biopharmaceutical company, and Ultimovacs, a pharmaceutical company developing novel immunotherapy against cancer, today announced that they are awarded NOK 500,000 for further development of the existing preclinical research collaboration. The purpose of the collaboration is to utilise the companies’ complementary scientific platforms to explore potential synergies and the grant will support these activities. The Innovation Norway grant of NOK 500,000 is awarded for 2017 and the grant is made available through Oslo Cancer Cluster a Norwegian Centre of Expertise.

Please see attached press release for further details.

Contact information:
PCI Biotech Holding ASA, Ullernchausséen 64, N-0379 Oslo, Norway. www.pcibiotech.com
Per Walday, CEO, pw@pcibiotech.no, Mobile: +47 917 93 429.

This information is subject to the disclosure requirements pursuant to section 5-12 of the Norwegian Securities Trading Act.

 

Lytix enrols first patient in LTX-315/anti-PD1 combination study

The immune oncology company Lytix Biopharma AS has enrolled the first patient in the Phase 1 study of LTX-315 in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). Since LTX-315 turns immunogenically “cold” tumours “hot” it may be an ideal combination with other immunotherapies.

The majority of cancer patients do not respond to marketed immunotherapies when given as monotherapy. The promise of combination immunotherapy is that it may improve the response rate observed with ICIs.

LTX-315 is a novel first-in-class oncolytic peptide immunotherapy in development for the treatment of solid tumours as triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) and malignant melanoma. As monotherapy, LTX-315 has demonstrated a significant increase in CD8 T cells infiltration in injected tumours. Since LTX-315 is turning immunogenically “cold” tumours “hot” it has the potential to enhance the proportion of patients responding to ICIs.

Håkan Wickholm, Lytix Biopharma CEO, commented, -We look forward to gaining further understanding of the potential for LTX-315 as a key component in immunotherapy. Due to LTX-315’s ability to induce strong and diverse tumour specific T cell responses, we believe it is an ideal combination partner for ICIs.

Andrew Saunders, Lytix Biopharma CMO, commented, -LTX-315 can make immunogenically “cold” tumours “hot” and has demonstrated strong synergy in combination with ICIs in preclinical experiments. This represents a strong rationale for us to evaluate this combination in cancer patients.

The Phase 1 trial is designed to investigate the safety and efficacy of LTX-315 in combination with either anti-PD1 or anti-CTLA4 Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor (ICI) antibodies in either Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) or malignant melanoma. The first patient enrolled in the study is a TNBC patient that will receive LTX-315 in combination with anti-PD1. LTX-315 is injected twice a week for 3 weeks, and a total of 14 investigational sites in Europe are participating in the study.

The Phase 1 study is an open-label, multi-arm, dose escalation study of LTX-315 as monotherapy or in combination with either anti-CTLA4 or anti-PD1 in patients with transdermally accessible tumours with the aim of identifying an optimal dose regimen to take into Phase 2.

Recent data indicate that in a Phase 1 trial population with advanced/metastatic tumours, LTX-315 is generally well tolerated with complete and partial regression in 31% of injected tumours and stable disease (SD) in 50% of evaluable patients.
For further information, please contact:

Håkan Wickholm, Chief Executive Officer

Targeted drug delivery platform company Phoenix Solutions AS completes its Series A financing

The Board of Directors of Phoenix Solutions is pleased to announce that the company has completed a series A financing led by a small group of healthcare angel investors. CEO Per Sontum, -We are very pleased to announce this first round of financing. This funding will give us the ability to reach a key developmental milestone for our preclinical work in pancreatic cancer.

Phoenix Solutions is a Norwegian bio-tech company sprung out from GE Healthcare in 2013, currently developing a technology platform for targeted drug delivery – Acoustic Cluster Therapy (ACT®). ACT® is a unique approach to ultrasound mediated, targeted drug delivery – capable of enhancing significantly the clinical utility of a wide range of therapeutic molecules and nano-drugs for a wide range of clinical indications. Its primary mode of action is in defeating the vascular barrier, enhancing extravasation, distribution and uptake of drug in the targeted tissue, thereby increasing efficacy and/or reducing toxicity. ACT® is generally indicated towards diseases where current clinical practice treats known, localized pathologies (e.g. solid tumours) with medicinal therapy, and where Standard of Care is being limited from an inability to deliver sufficiently high concentrations of drug to the tumour without excessive systemic toxicity. Phoenix is currently targeting the oncology segment, looking in particular at pancreatic, liver, triple negative breast and prostate cancers, and have had extremely promising preclinical results so far.

 

For further information, please contact: Per Christian Sontum, CEO of Phoenix Solutions AS

E-mail: Per.Sontum@phoenixsolutions.no

Mobile: +47 47261042

Prime Minister Erna Solberg´s speech to Oslo Cancer Cluster

Oslo Cancer Cluster celebrated it´s 10 years anniversary in December with almost 170 guests, the Prime Minister Erna Solberg, State Secretary Dilek Ayhan, several Members of the Parliament, General Secretary of the Norwegian Cancer Society Anne Lise Ryel and representatives from the governmental agencies SIVA, Innovation Norway and the Research Council. 

At the anniversary seminar, Prime Minister Erna Solberg gave a speech where she honoured the work that the cluster has done so far to contribute to the development of innovative cancer treatments.

The Prime Minister also revealed to the acclamation from the audience,  that the financing in the future is secured through the Research Council. This funding comes in addition to the earmarked funding to health clusters in the State Budget for 2017 that Oslo Cancer Cluster also may apply for.

Anne Lise Ryel, General Secretary of the Norwegian Cancer Society also gave a wonderful speech to cluster. 

 

Below you may read Erna Solberg´s speech,  published on regjeringen.no

 

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at Oslo Cancer Cluster 13 December 2016.
By Statsminister Erna Solberg

First of all, I would like to wish you happy anniversary, Oslo Cancer Cluster!

Congratulations to all of you who have contributed to the development of what OCC stands for today, and what OCC will be in the future.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park has developed into  an important meeting place for cancer research, innovation and education.

You host activities throughout the value chain: basic research, clinical trials, innovation, commercialisation and most importantly implementation of new knowledge in clinical pracice.

I’m sure the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park will also play an important role in shaping future cancer treatments and as an innovative environment for researchers.

Cancer is the disease area that receives most of the research funding both nationally and regionally.

This investment produces results in the form of new treatment that benefits cancer patients – for example,

Personalised medicine is gradually being implemented in the treatment of cancer patients.

Immunotherapy is a new revolutionary development in cancer treatment which is thought to have an even larger impact on cancer treatment in the future.

Protontherapy may be more effective and reduce the extent of damage to surrounding organs and tissues.

I am well aware that behind these key developments are many years of hard work in research. Thank you all for contributing!

We can still bring even more of the investments we make in research to the patients, through increased focus on collaboration between the health sector and industry in clinical research, innovation and commercialization of research results.

The importance of this collaboration is discussed in several documents. Let me mention the Government’s White Paper on medicines, the HealthCare21 strategy and  the Government Action Plan for implementation of the Health&Care21 Strategy.

The health and care sector is of great importance in our society. This is a sector where knowledge, new technology and demographic development lead to rapid changes and restructuring.

The patient and her needs is to be at the centre of these changes.

Research and innovation is instrumental when aiming for higher patient quality, development of better health and care services and more effective and affordable treatment.

Research and innovation also lays the foundation for new business development.

For the first time in Norway, the major actors in the health industry have joined forces and developed a report  aiming at describing the entire health industry in numbers. This report from Menon this year says among other things that the health industry in Norway:

  • exported for about 20 billion Norwegian kroner in 2015,
  • had a strong revenue growth in 2015 of 11 percent,
  • that research and development efforts in the health sector is at least 2.5 billion Norwegian kroner.

I believe that the health industry may play an important role in the Norwegian economy. Accordingly, this Government has decided that health is a priority in industrial policy development.

In this context, it is of  importance to develop strong clusters. OCC is an important example of international renown cancer cluster in Norway today.

We have many types of policy instruments and tools in order to achieve our objectives in developing and strengthening Norwegian industries through the Research Council and Innovation Norway.

OCC plays an important role in creating cooperation arenas between users, public sector, health authorities, private sector and research communities.

I am pleased to let you know that the Research Council has informed me that it will provide funding to OCC,  granted that the criteria from the State Aid Guidelines are fulfilled.

Furthermore, next year’s national budget contains a proposal to strengthen the clusters – and with a particular focus on health-related research and innovation. This in turn should provide for additional options for  clusters to apply for project funding.

I look forward to follow your work in the years to come.

Again happy anniversary!

Norwegian Cancer Society honours Oslo Cancer Cluster

Anne Lise Ryel, General Secretary of the Norwegian Cancer Society gave a powerful speech at the celebration of Oslo Cancer Cluster´s 10 years anniversary. Here she stresses the importance of collaboration and ensures the continued support to the cluster. 

 

OSLO CANCER CLUSTER 10 ÅR

HILSEN VED GENERALSEKRETÆR ANNE LISE RYEL, KREFTFORENINGEN

13. DESEMBER 2016

 

 

Prime Minister,

Deputy Minister,

Members of the Parliament,

Friends of OCC,

Friends of the cancer case,

Dear all of you,

 

1.

I have a dream.

A dream that Norway expand the investment in, and starts building a sustainable innovative health industry.

Why: For the better of the nation, creating value, creating work places, and of course, needless to say;

for better treatment and quality of life for future patients.

I have a dream that we in doing so, we combine our expertise and excellence in technology from the oil and gas sector with medicine and healthcare.

Pumps and pipes.

I think I share this dream with many, hopefully also with our prime minister.

 

2.

I have a dream.

A dream that this health industry – being so massive – will focus on cancer.

In this field we have unique possibilities and benefits for national and global success.

 

Such as:

-Some excellent research groups

-A national cancer registry

-Population surveys

-Bio banks

-A national ID number

-A homogenous population

 

People trust in the healthcare system/sector

People want to participate in clinical trials

Systems for including the user´s perspective

 

Obama also shares this dream.

To combat cancer with help of research and innovation and industry.

And to help fulfill his dream he looks to Norway.*

 

He looks to where we are now, to this very spot!

 

3.

I have a dream.

A dream that this campus ­ – with Radium Hospitalet, with its clinics, research institutions, Oslo Cancer Cluster, Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation park, startups, the school, The Cancer Registry, the Vardecenter for patients – becomes a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This will attract the best global minds and the best ideas, and money.

It’s here in Oslo, in the capital.

But it is national.

Like OCC is national. It’s a Norwegian cluster.

 

4.

I have a dream that we will continue to build on the Nordic model.

A model with three parties.

Public, private and NGOs.

Together we cover a broader perspective, we contribute with our unique strengths, we play different roles.

Together we gain more.

I say Nordic model, because the most common model globally is the two sectors together: public and private.

 

The Nordic countries have realized that organizations like the Norwegian cancer society, NGOs within the health sector,

Always have, from their very start, been innovative.

Always tried to find solutions to the needs voiced by citizens and patient groups.

 

Therefore we think and hope that we have a role to play. That we can contribute. In general. In the healthcare sector.

 

5.

And that’s why the Norwegian cancer society has been a supporter of OCC from the start and a member from an early stage.

Hopefully we have facilitated contact with other actors, hopefully we have opened some doors, hopefully we have been good ambassadors.

 

6.

Today OCC is 10 years of age.

It has grown from a baby to becoming a teenager.

The expectations might change a bit.

The challenges might be a bit different in the future.

But with a growing strength, more can be gained, and more value added to the role of being a cluster.

 

We will continue to support you. Perhaps also in new ways.

We see the need of a common ground, a place where all the actors can meet and mingle and join and create.

Otherwise, neither my nor others´ dreams will come true.

 

I will make Henry Ford’s words mine:

Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.

 

7.

My colleague googled to find out what a 10-year-old would like as a gift.

The answer was the game «How to become a millionaire». The combination knowledge + ideas + creativity is a way to money. Both in games and real life.

A perfect gift for you!

 

Congratulations!

 

 

 

Photo of Martin Bonde, Vaccibody

Vaccibody raised MNOK 220

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Vaccibody succesfully raised NOK 220 million (€ 24 million). The Private Placement was significantly oversubscribed by both existing shareholders and new investors.

The net proceeds from the Private Placement will be used to conduct Vaccibody’s early stage clinical development plan for personalized cancer neoantigen vaccines (two phase I/Ib trials) and for general corporate purposes.

Martin Bonde, CEO of Vaccibody, said: “We are grateful for the confidence in, and commitment to, the Company from our new investors as well as our existing investors. With the investment we will be able to pursue our ambition of making an entirely novel therapy available. In collaboration with expert clinicians we will work to initiate clinical trials with our to cancer neoantigen vaccines to show benefit in patients suffering from advanced and severe cancer”.

 

www.vaccibody.com

Nordic Nanovector raised 500 MNOK

Nordic Nanovector  has raised MNOK 500 in gross proceeds through a private placement of 4,374,244 new shares. 

 

Nordic Nanovector intends to use the net proceeds to:

– To fund a Phase 2 combination study of Betalutin® and Rituximab CD20
– To fund a Phase 1 study and GMP manufacturing for 177Lu-conjugated chimeric antibody (anti-CD37 ARC)
– Develop new proprietary antibody production technology
–  Accelerate pipeline of pre-clinical assets to clinical trials
–  Prepare for commercial launch of Betalutin®
–  General corporate purposes
The Private Placement and the issuance of the new shares was resolved by the Company’s Board of Directors (the “Board”) at a board meeting held on 6 December 2016, based on the authorisation granted to the Board at the Company’s annual general meeting on 19 May 2016. Notification of allotment in the Private Placement and payment instructions will be sent to the applicants today through a notification from the Joint Bookrunners. The new shares will be settled delivery versus payment on 9 December 2016 (regular T+2 settlement), by delivery of existing and unencumbered shares in the Company that are already listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange pursuant to a share lending agreement between DNB Markets (on behalf of the Joint Bookrunners) and HealthCap VI L.P. The new shares delivered to the subscribers will thus be tradable from allocation.

Following registration of the new share capital pertaining to the Private Placement in the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises, expected to take place on or about 13 December 2016, the Company will have an issued share capital of NOK 9,794,924, divided into 48,974,618 shares, each with a par value of NOK 0.20.

The Board has assessed the Private Placement in light of the equal treatment requirement, balanced the considerations that speak for and against carrying out the Private Placement and concluded that the waiver of the preferential rights inherent in a private placement was considered necessary in the interest of time and successful completion in the common interest of the Company and its shareholders.

 

 

 

About Nordic Nanovector:

Nordic Nanovector is a biotech company focusing on the development and commercialisation of novel targeted therapeutics in haematology and oncology. The Company’s lead clinical-stage product opportunity is Betalutin®, the first in a new class of Antibody-Radionuclide-Conjugates (ARC) designed to improve upon and complement current options for the treatment of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). NHL is an indication with substantial unmet medical need and orphan drug opportunities, representing a growing market worth over $12 billion by 2018.

Betalutin® comprises a tumour-seeking anti-CD37 antibody, lilotomab, conjugated to a low intensity radionuclide (lutetium-177). The preliminary data has shown promising efficacy and safety profile in an ongoing Phase 1/2 study in a difficult-to-treat NHL patient population. The Company is aiming at developing Betalutin® for the treatment of major types of NHL with first regulatory submission anticipated in 1H 2019.

Nordic Nanovector intends to retain marketing rights and to actively participate in the commercialisation of Betalutin® in core markets, while exploring potential distribution agreements in selected geographies. The Company is committed to developing its pipeline of innovative targeted immunoconjugate therapies for multiple selected cancer indications.

Further information about the Company can be found at www.nordicnanovector.com

This information is subject to the disclose requirements pursuant to section 5-12 of the Norwegian Securities Trading Act.

 

Single-dose Betalutin® shows promising efficacy

Nordic Nanovector ASA presented the updated results from its ongoing Lymrit 37-01 Phase 1/2 clinical trial of Betalutin® (177Lu-satetraxetan-lilotomab) in subjects with relapsed non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) at the 58th Annual American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting (San Diego, CA, USA).

 

The updated data confirm Betalutin®’s promising efficacy and favourable safety profile as a single agent in 38 relapsed NHL patients, having failed multiple prior regimens and being eligible for assessments. The results, based on the data cut-off date of 31 October 2016, were presented by the study’s Principal Investigator Dr. Arne Kolstad from the Department of Oncology at the Oslo University Hospital, Radiumhospitalet.

Key conclusions:

• In the 35 patients evaluable for efficacy, the Overall Response Rate (ORR) was 63%, with 29% Complete Responses (CR)

• The 21 evaluable patients in the study who received Betalutin® at the dose of 15 MBq/kg with 40 mg/m2 lilotomab pre-dosing had an ORR of 62% and a CR of 38%; of these, the 16 patients enrolled in the Phase 2 expansion of Arm 1, had an ORR of 69% and a CR of 38%

• Durable responses have been observed with a median duration of response of 20.7 months for all patients in Arm 1

• Betalutin® is well tolerated, with a predictable and manageable safety profile: most adverse events are haematological in nature, and all have been transient and reversible

• No dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) was reported in Arm 4 (15 MBq/kg Betalutin® plus 100 mg/m2 lilotomab pre-dosing) and this regimen demonstrated lower bone marrow toxicity than Arm 1, 2 and 3. Arm 4 is now enrolling patients to evaluate the higher dosing regimen of 20 MBq/kg Betalutin® plus 100 mg/m2 lilotomab.

The Lymrit 37-01 study is a Phase 1/2 open label, dose escalation study investigating the optimal lilotomab pre-dosing and Betalutin® regimen in patients with relapsed NHL. Data from 38 patients are presented.

Dr. Arne Kolstad, MD commented -The results we are presenting today are very encouraging and continue to highlight the potential of Betalutin® to provide a new treatment option for NHL patients. These patients, particularly those who fail standard CD20-targeted immunotherapy and/or are too frail to receive chemotherapy, are desperately in need of alternative therapies that work through different and complementary mechanisms and are well tolerated. Betalutin® is showing exciting promise in an increasing number of NHL patients and we look forward to the results from future studies that will hopefully confirm its attractive profile.

Dr. Lisa Rojkjaer, MD Nordic Nanovector’s Chief Medical Officer, commented -These new data confirm the promising results for Betalutin®, including durable responses in a number of patients, which were presented earlier this year at the AACR meeting, and continue to demonstrate an encouraging clinical profile as a single agent for treating patients with relapsed NHL. The results also support escalating to a higher dosing regimen in the final stages of this Phase 1/2 study that will allow us to decide an optimal dosing regimen for the pivotal Phase 2 study, PARADIGME, expected in Q1 2017.

The poster (abstract 1780) was presented on Saturday, 3 December 2016 between 5:30PM–7:30PM Pacific Standard Time (Oslo: Sunday 4 December, 2:30AM–4:30AM CET) and is available at: http://www.nordicnanovector.com/product-info/scientific-posters.

 

 

About Nordic Nanovector
Nordic Nanovector is a biotech company focusing on the development and commercialisation of novel targeted therapeutics in haematology and oncology. The Company’s lead clinical-stage product opportunity is Betalutin®, the first in a new class of Antibody-Radionuclide-Conjugates (ARC) designed to improve upon and complement current options for the treatment of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). NHL is an indication with substantial unmet medical need and orphan drug opportunities, representing a growing market worth over $12 billion by 2018.

Betalutin® comprises a tumour-seeking anti-CD37 antibody, lilotomab (previously referred to as HH1), conjugated to a low intensity radionuclide (lutetium-177). The preliminary data has shown promising efficacy and safety profile in an ongoing Phase 1/2 study in a difficult-to-treat NHL patient population. The Company is aiming at developing Betalutin® for the treatment of major types of NHL with first regulatory submission anticipated in 1H 2019.

Nordic Nanovector intends to retain marketing rights and to actively participate in the commercialisation of Betalutin® in core markets, while exploring potential distribution agreements in selected geographies. The Company is committed to developing its ARC pipeline to treat multiple selected cancer indications.

Further information about the Company can be found at www.nordicnanovector.com

This information is subject to the disclose requirements pursuant to section 5-12 of the Norwegian Securities Trading Act.

Strong recommendations for Blue Light Cystoscopy with Hexvix® in new French Guidelines

Oslo, Norway, November, 21 2016: Photocure ASA (OSE:PHO) announced today that new 2016 French National Guidelines for the management of Bladder Cancer includes its Blue Light Cystoscopy (BLC) with Hexvix®.  The new guidelines have been presented on November 17th, during Association of French Urologists (AFU) National Meeting, Paris, France published on line in Progres en urologie.

Please click here for an abstract of the guidelines.

The French guidelines recommend BLC with Hexvix® for the first bladder cancer resection (TURBT) in essentially all patients and for consecutive TURBT’s in the majority of patients. The recommendations are at an evidence level Grade B, demonstrating the strong clinical data supporting BLC with Hexvix®.

– The Association of French Urology National Bladder Cancer Guidelines for the management of patients with bladder cancer were last released in 2013.  One of the biggest differences since the last guideline is that it now includes the situations BLC with Hexvix® can be used to reduce the risk of recurrence of NMIBC. The strong recommendation for use of blue light cystoscopy with Hexvix® should result in contributing to increasing the level of urological care for the management of patients with bladder cancer in France, said  M. Roupret, during his presentation on the guidelines at the AFU meeting, Professor of Urology Pitié-Salpétrière – Hôpitaux de Paris University and one of the authors of the guidelines.

-The updated French National Guidelines recommending BLC with Hexvix® for such a wide range of patient types will result in BLC with Hexvix® being seen as standard of care. It is especially encouraging to see the strong recommendation for using BLC at the very critical first TURBT, which allows for the most correct staging and grading, which is crucial for the optimal follow-up and management of the patient. The recommendation for use in the first TURBT is also supported by Hexvix® cost effectiveness data developed for French conditions published in 20151, commented Kjetil Hestdal, MD, PhD, President and CEO, Photocure ASA.

In 2011, Photocure entered into a strategic collaboration with Ipsen to commercialize Hexvix®, its flagship product for the diagnosis and management of bladder cancer, worldwide except in the United States of America (USA) and the Nordic region. This technology represents a significant improvement for urologists and their patients. Ipsen is notably responsible for the commercialization of Hexvix® in France.

About Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in men with more than 330 000 new cases annually and more than 130 000 die of the disease2. It has a high recurrence rate with an average of 61% in one year and 78% over five years, making the lifetime costs of managing bladder cancer one of the highest amongst all cancers. It is a costly, potentially progressive disease for which patients have to undergo multiple cystoscopies because of the high risk of recurrence. A recent paper on the economic burden of bladder cancer across the European Union estimates that bladder cancer cost the EU 4.9 billion Euro in 20123. There is an urgent need to improve both the diagnosis and the management of bladder cancer for the benefit of patients and healthcare systems alike.

Bladder cancer is classified into two types, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) and muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC), depending on the depth of invasion in the bladder wall. NMIBC is still in the inner layer of cells. These cancers are the most common (75%) of all bladder cancer cases and include the subtypes Ta, carcinoma in situ (CIS) and T1 lesions. MIBC is when the cancer has grown into deeper layers of the bladder wall. These cancers, including subtypes T2, T3 and T4, are more likely to spread and are harder to treat.

About Hexvix®/Cysview®

Hexvix®/Cysview® (hexaminolevulinate hydro-chloride) is an innovative breakthrough technology in the diagnosis and management of non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer. It is designed to selectively target malignant cells in the bladder and induce fluorescence during a cystoscopic procedure using a blue light enabled cystoscope. Using Hexvix®/Cysview® as an adjunct to standard white light cystoscopy enables the urologist to better detect and remove lesions, leading to a reduced risk of recurrence.

Hexvix® is the tradename in Europe, Cysview® in U.S. and Canada. Hexvix® is marketed and sold by Photocure in the Nordic countries and in the US with the trade name Cysview®. Photocure has a strategic partnership with Ipsen for the commercialization of Hexvix® in Europe, excluding the Nordic region.

Please see here for further information on our commercial partners.

Photocure with good results

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Photocure ASA is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on photodynamic technologies in cancer and dermatology. They reported a revenue growth of 17 % to NOK 31.6 million in the third quarter of 2016 (Q3 2015: NOK 27.0) for the Hexvix/Cysview commercial franchise and a corresponding EBITDA of NOK 8.0 million.

Watch full presentation here.

 

About:
Photocure, the world leader in photodynamic technology, is a Norwegian based specialty pharmaceutical company. They develop and commercialize highly selective and effective solutions in several disease areas such as bladder cancer, HPV and precancerous lesions of the cervix and acne.

Photocure currently have one product on the market: Hexvix®/Cysview® (The brand name is Cysview in the US and Hexvix in the rest of the world).

The Photocure Technology® is uniquely selective, targeting affected areas without impact to non-affected areas. This allows for non-invasive procedures that improve quality of life.

For more information on Photocure.

Workshop Update: MyData and Blockchain-based innovation in the Digital Health Sector

Oslo Cancer Cluster hosted a workshop co-organized by Alpha Venturi on “MyData and Blockchain-based innovation in the digital Health sector” on 14 November 2016 @ Jónas Einarsson Auditorium. 

Stakeholders and companies from Norway, Finland, United Kingdom and Estonia have been involved in the brainstorming sessions on several aspects of digital health revolution. The Norwegian Health Directorate, Norwegian Centre for E-Health Research and University in Oulu/Digital Health Revolution from Norway and Finland introduced their respective country perspectives on digital healthcare and progress made relative to MyData.

Multinational biopharmaceutical company Amgen presented their views on the potential gains from such an approach. Alpha Venturi iterated the importance of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies as a potential game changer for Healthcare among other industries. Two foreign companies, Digi.me from UK and Guardtime from Estonia, have also been invited as external speakers to come and present their respective approach to enable access and sharing of personal health data, one of which based on Blockchain, and the pilots they are implementing respectively in Iceland and Estonia among others.

During this workshop, Alpha Venturi and Oslo Cancer Cluster, moderated the discussions on further perspectives on technologies like Blockchain for Health Care and Personalised Medicine. The first half of the workshop included informative presentations from the delegates, and the later half was focused on brainstorming discussions on potential collaborations.

Alpha Venturi will soon release a report from this workshop that will include short-term and long-term visions, recommendations of the activities and innovation projects in digital health space that can be initiated in Norway in partnership with other Nordic countries. You contact the CEO of Alpha Venturi, Wilfried Pimenta de Miranda at: wilfried@alpha-venturi.com

20161114_103338

Given below is the glimpse of the workshop agenda:

Start Activity Min.
8.45 Arrival of the first participants
9.10 Welcome, presentation of participants and background for the initiative

Oslo Cancer Cluster – Gupta Udatha

Alpha Venturi – Wilfried Pimenta de Miranda

20
9.30 Norway: Overview of the e-health situation and roadmap, examples

Norwegian Health Directorate – Erik Hedlund

10
9.40 Norway: Perspectives on ongoing e-health research and innovation related to MyData

Norwegian Centre for E-Health Research – Gustav Bellika

10
9.50 Finland: Overview of the e-health situation and roadmap, examples

Digital Health Revolution – Maritta Perälä-Heape

20
10.10 The changing data landscape and its impact on biopharma

Amgen- Jonathan Doogan

30
10.40 Pause 10
10.50 A person centric example, Health Iceland Living Lab

Digi.me – Julian Ranger and Andrew Carmody

30
11.20 Q&A 20
11.40 Lunch – Open discussions and networking 60
12.40 Introduction to Blockchain + Use cases in the Health sector

Alpha Venturi – Wilfried Pimenta de Miranda

30
13.10 Healthcare pilot for Estonia

Guardtime – Martin Ruubel

30
13.40 Q&A 20
14.20 Pause 10
14.30 How could a person centric approach be applied to a Norway/Finland healthcare sector 30
15.00 How to make personal data available to individuals 30
15.30 Pause 15
15.45 Building a common vision for the partnership, design principles, initial pilot thoughts 45
16.30 Agreement of next steps; creation of working group to follow up from the day 45
17.15 End & Networking until 17.45 30

For further information and discussions on Oslo Cancer Cluster’s digital health projects, please contact our Project Manager D.B.R.K. Gupta Udatha

D.B.R.K Gupta Udatha

Oslo Cancer Cluster and NCE Smart Energy Markets together with four European clusters in medicine and IT managed to land a prestigious Horizon 2020 EU project. The EU project will use innovative IT solutions to develop personalized cancer treatment. Allocated funds are 45 million NOK, of which 34 million NOK are earmarked for small and medium enterprises in the clusters. The EU project with the sounding name “Personalised Medicine Innovation through Digital Enterprise Solutions: PERMIDES”, will utilize digital tools and novel solutions from the IT sector  to support the development of new cancer treatment. This will be achieved by matching small and medium enterprises from the IT and the biopharma sector for joint innovation projects.

View PERMIDES page

Cancer Crosslinks 2017

Det er med stor glede vi inviterer onkologer, hematologer og forskere til det niende Cancer Crosslinks i vår egen Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovasjonspark.

Cancer Crosslinks er den årlige møteplassen for onkologer og hematologer. I 2017 går Cancer Crosslinks av stabelen 26. januar. Vi har delt inn dagen i tre faglige sesjoner som alle presenterer relevante, tverrfaglige temaer med stor klinisk relevans:

• Sesjon 1 “Cancer and Inflammation – new insights and their clinical impact”
• Sesjon 2 “Today’s cancer treatment: how individualized can it be?”
• Sesjon 3 “Classical endpoints vs. Real-world evidence – need to rethink?”

Vi er veldig stolt over å presentere internasjonale toppforelesere fra både Europa og USA som sammen med nasjonale eksperter vil gi innsikt i et fagfelt i rivende utvikling. Åpningssesjonen er med Professor Jerome Galon fra INSERM som blant annet står bak Immunoscore, som er ny metode for rutinemessig klinisk vurdering av prognosen til kreftpasienter. Vi ser også veldig fram til å høre Professor William G. Wierda fra MD Anderson snakke om hvor persontilpasset behandlingen av blodkreft kan gjøres i dag.

Vi håper møtet vil stimulere til tverrfaglig diskusjon og samarbeid “fra laboratorium til sykeseng”.
Presentasjonene vil foregå på engelsk.

Om du har problemer med å registrere deg elektronisk, scann inn svarslippen og send den på mail til jh@oslocancercluster.no. På grunn av stor interesse for Cancer Crosslinks, kan firmaer kun stille med to personer. Kaare Norum Auditorium har plass til 290 deltagere. Møtet vil også bli strømmet direkte.

  • Dersom du trenger fly eller togbillett, ta kontakt med vårt byrå Berg-Hansen på e-mail: bestilling@berg-hansen.no eller på telefonnummer: 08050. Vennligst oppgi kode “OCC”, belastes Oslo Cancer Cluster. Booking vil åpne torsdag 1. desember 2016.

Møtet arrangeres i samarbeid med Bristol-Myers Squibb og AbbVie Norge. Arrangementet er i samsvar med retningslinjene som er inngått mellom Legeforeningen og Legemiddelindustriforeningen. Denne invitasjonen er også sendt til administrasjonen og/eller avdelingsansvarlig, i henhold til sykehusets interne regler.

Targovax granted European Patent for ONCOS platform lead product, ONCOS-102

Oslo Cancr Cluster member Targovax has been granted European Patent for ONCOS platform lead product, ONCOS-102. This composition of matter patent protects Targovax’s lead product from its ONCOS platform, the oncolytic viral product ONCOS-102 and expires in 2029. A US patent covering ONCOS-102 was granted in May 2016.

Targovax’s proprietary ONCOS platform generates novel oncolytic viruses, an emerging class of biological therapy. ONCOS exclusively uses adenoviruses, which are engineered to be tumor targeted immune activators. The platform has the potential to generate therapies with superior efficacy and safety compared to the first approved oncolytic virus therapy, Imlygic, recently launched by Amgen.

In a previously reported Phase I trial ONCOS-102 treatment induced tumor-specific immune activation both at a systemic and lesional level in tumors of late stage cancer patients. The immune activation was associated with signals of clinical benefit. Targovax is currently initiating a number of Phase I/II clinical trials that are expected to readout in the next two years for the treatment of solid tumors such as melanoma, malignant pleural mesothelioma, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer.

ONCOS-102 has Orphan drug designation with the FDA and EMA in mesothelioma, ovarian cancer and soft tissue sarcoma.

Jon Amund Eriksen, Chief Technology Innovation Officer and Co-founder of Targovax said, “This European patent is an important addition to Targovax’s intellectual property portfolio covering our ONCOS platform and the engineered oncolytic viruses that arise from it. The patent further extends the protection of the lead product candidate from the platform, ONCOS-102, following the grant of a US patent for ONCOS-102 in May this year, both of which expire in 2029. The US and Europe are expected to be the largest markets for immuno-oncology products, the most rapidly growing segment for the development of innovative cancer treatments.”

The main characteristics of ONCOS-102 include:

  • The adenovirus knob 5 domain is replaced by a protein from a different adenovirus (serotype 3) to facilitate the specific entrance of ONCOS-102 into tumor cells
  • One of the genes affecting virus replication in the host cells is inactivated (D24 deletion). As a result, the virus cannot replicate in normal cells, but can do so in tumor cells
  • A gene coding for GM-CSF, a drug stimulating the immune response, inserted into the virus genome and expressed during the virus replication in the tumor cells

 

 

About Targovax

Arming the patient’s immune system to fight cancer

Targovax (OSE: TRVX) is a clinical stage company focused on developing novel immuno-oncology therapies to target, primarily, treatment-resistant solid tumors. The Company’s pipeline is created from two novel proprietary platforms, with three therapeutic candidates in clinical development covering six indications including melanoma, mesothelioma, ovarian cancer and resected pancreatic cancer. Targovax’s strategy is to bring products to market directly in those indications where it already has Orphan drug status and to partner with pharmaceutical companies in larger disease areas with significant commercial potential.

Nordic Nanovector: Results from preclinical studies of Betalutin® in combination with rituximab in non-Hodgkin lymphoma model to be presented at ASH

Nordic Nanovector ASA (OSE: NANO) announces that a poster describing the therapeutic effect of combined treatment with Betalutin® (177Lu-satetraxetan-lilotomab) and rituximab in a preclinical model of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) (abstract 4189) will be presented at the 58th Annual American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting (3-6 December 2016 in San Diego, CA, USA). These studies build on previously presented data showing that treatment with Betalutin® increased binding of rituximab to NHL cells and uptake of rituximab in NHL tumours. The combination treatment resulted in 90-100 % survival for 150 days after treatment, while each treatment alone gave from 10 to 40 % survival.

The ASH annual meeting is the premier event for scientific exchange in the field of hematology, attracting more than 20,000 attendees from all over the world. Typically, more than 5,000 scientific abstracts are submitted each year, and more than 3,000 abstracts are accepted for oral and poster presentations through an extensive peer review process.

Poster details

Abstract 4189
Abstract title: Combination of 177lutetium-Satetraxetan-Lilotomab and Rituximab Results in Improved Therapeutic Effect in Preclinical Models of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Authors: Repetto-Llamazares, AHV et al.
Session Name: 625. Lymphoma: Pre-Clinical – Chemotherapy and Biologic Agents: Poster III
Date/Time: Monday, 5 December 2016, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (PST)
Location: San Diego Convention Center, Hall GH
Link to abstract see here.

PERMIDES European Workshop @ 06th December 2016

PERMIDES EU Workshop in Oslo @ 06th December 2016 (12:00 -16:30 hrs)

The workshop starts with an introduction to PERMIDES, the innovation challenges to be addressed with this project and short presentations to inspire the subsequent workshop part.

Why join? You can benefit from innovation vouchers of up to EUR 60.000 to develop and implement novel IT based solutions for biopharmaceutical R&D challenges. By sharing your IT related needs and discussing potential solutions with potential partners you ensure that the innovation calls match your needs.

Questions? Connect to Gupta Udatha (gupta.udatha@oslocancercluster.no; 45534627) or Jutta Heix (jh@oslocancercluster.no; 94163089).

register

PERMIDES is a perfect opportunity for start-ups and SMEs that are involved in biopharma value chain, IT sector and emerging personalized medicine industries to team up with complementary partners and opt for the rich portfolio of services & direct funding PERMIDES provides.

How can you as a SME benefit from PERMIDES?

SMEs from the biopharmaceutical sector get access to relevant partners from the IT sector. The IT companies can develop and implement tailored digital solutions to improve business and product development processes. The costs incurred for this purpose by the IT partner will be covered by means of consulting, prototyping and customised solution vouchers totalling up to EUR 60,000. The biopharmaceutical company may also benefit from new products and applications developed by the IT company within the framework of the joint project.

SMEs from the IT sector get access to partners and new customers from the biopharmaceutical sector to apply and adapt their solutions to SMEs developing novel personalized medicine products. Innovation vouchers will cover their expenses, and the knowledge gained during these projects may create new products and business opportunities.