News regarding Oslo Cancer Cluster

Personalised medicine to relieve the health service

Smaller patient groups and targeted treatments are the future of cancer care in Norway.

It is no longer a question of if but when personalised medicine will be a reality for all cancer patients in Norway. This was a key message in a recent meeting arranged by the public-private consortium CONNECT during Arendalsuka, where the resource crisis in the health service was discussed.

Forward-looking health authorities

Ulrich Spreng, Chief Medical Officer of the South-Eastern Regional Health Authority (Helse Sør-Øst), underlined how critical personalised treatments will be in the future. Spreng sits in the Decision Forum of New Methods, the national system that manages the introduction of new treatments in Norway. The Decision Forum looks at three criteria; the severity of the disease, the effect of the treatment and the resources it requires.

“If you can target treatment better according to an individual patient’s genetic profile, there will be a greater effect. This makes it easier to implement that drug since it is a different relationship between resources and effect than when you treat a large patient group where many do not have an effect. It is important for us to separate a total patient group into subgroups according to their genetic profile. This is very exciting for New Methods!” Spreng commented.

Urgent lack of resources

The Norwegian health service faces a lack of resources and personnel, according to an investigation by the Health Personnel Commission in 2022. Gro Live Fagereng, Coordinator Precision Cancer Medicine at Oslo University Hospital, agreed this is a major challenge:

“We have limited time and finances in the health service, so we must prioritise the available resources. Both personalised medicine and research in general form the basis for making the best priorities. We need to invest in research to make the most of our resources. I hope and believe we will have a more systematic and learning health service in the future; that we will learn more from patients, so we can update treatments and make better priorities.”

Åsmund Flobak, oncologist at St. Olavs Hospital, explained how personalised medicine enables us to learn from patients:

“Traditionally, we have treated patients on a group level, but we know that patients are different; some respond and some do not. The goal is to find out which biomarkers relate to which treatments. We have worked to establish publicly financed precision diagnostics through InPreD and we give patients precision treatment through IMPRESS. A third of us will at some point get cancer, so we must implement better treatments.”

Watch this video (in Norwegian) to understand personalised medicine:

Health economists also agree that this strategy can help to save resources.

“When a patient gets the right treatment, you avoid giving a treatment that doesn’t work well enough first and there are fewer side effects. The consequence is less use of resources in the health service and we can live better lives,” commented Erik Magnus Sæther, Partner at Oslo Economics.

Public-private collaboration needed

Karoline Knutsen, Manager Market Access at Legemiddelindustrien (LMI), said that the vision for the future looks grim:

“The number of people of working age will decrease, while there will be more elderly in need of health services. We will see more chronically ill people with complex diseases. We believe new technologies and treatments are part of the solution, so more of us can keep working. The success of implementation of personalised medicine relies not just on financial investments, but also on contributions from many key players and stakeholders. Everyone must sit around the same table.”

CONNECT was set up to be that table, as a public-private consortium driving the implementation of precision cancer medicine in Norway. Since 2020, CONNECT has gathered 30 partners, including industry, patient organisations, university hospitals and several governmental institutions.

“We need to nurture this collaboration, develop it and use it in more areas,” commented Thomas Axelsen, Head of Politics at the Norwegian Cancer Society. “Personalised medicine in cancer needs to happen, no matter what. It is just about how fast we want it to happen. If we do it faster, we can save patients’ lives.”

Political ambitions

The government’s ambition is also high in this area, as seen in the Strategy for Personalised Medicine launched in January 2022.

“Personalised medicine should be an integrated part of the specialist health service. We need to develop the health service in a way that maximises value creation, both for the individual and for society as a whole,” said Truls Vasvik, State Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Care Services.

“Our doors are always open. We need to talk together about the development of competences, research and new price models; how we can get documentation of small patient groups and single treatments with uncertain long-term effects,” added Vasvik.

Arendalsuka: – We need to attract the big companies

Norway needs more big companies to deliver on the Mission on Cancer.

The European Union has launched the Mission on Cancer with the goal to improve the lives of 3 million Europeans. In the recent meeting Fremtidens kreftbehandling during Arendalsuka, key experts and politicians gathered to discuss the implications of this for Norway. See the meeting here. See the meeting here. 

“With missions, we need to mobilise all resources in society towards a common goal. This is a new way to work and it challenges the established system. It is a historic investment from the EU; they are leaving no stone unturned in the fight against cancer,” said Astrid Bjerke, strategic adviser for the Norwegian Cancer Society.

A Norwegian Cancer Mission Hub has already been set up in Norway by several stakeholders, including Cancer Society, Oslo Cancer Cluster, The Research Council, The Norwegian Health Directorate, the Cancer Registry of Norway, and more.

“Norway is a part of the Mission on Cancer and this is important both for the ministry and from political leadership. EU has seen that we have to work together in the area of health. It is important that Norway is a part of this, because it also gives us possibilities.

“We have a great health service and fantastic health data, which we need to take better advantage of. We have a high degree of knowledge and fabulous research environments, as well as a population with a high degree of trust. Many positive things are happening, but we need to attract the big companies and their competence,” said Cathrine Lofthus, Secretary General of the Ministry of Health and Care Services.

Successful industry collaborations

Idar Kreutzer, director of The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), gave several historic examples of how Norway has built industries based on public-private collaboration, such as water power and the oil industry.

“We were impressed when we saw the power of the development of vaccines during the pandemic, which was a real collaboration between authorities, researchers and industry – with impressive results! The health industry is already exporting for more than NOK 20 billion per year, but the potential is even larger and Norway has perfect conditions to grow a health industry,” said Kreutzer.

One example of a current collaboration between academia and industry is the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, which is expanding and has recently signed a lease agreement with the global company Thermo Fisher Scientific.

“We are doing many of the right things in Norway from basic research to patient treatment, but we need to look at the whole ecosystem. We built this ecosystem in miniature around the Radium Hospital, because this is where most of the cancer patients come through and most cancer research is done. It has been a difficult journey, but we have a very exciting pipeline with several up-and-coming companies and promising treatments,” said Jónas Einarsson, CEO of Radforsk Investment Fund and founder of Oslo Cancer Cluster.

Is there political will?

There seemed to be broad political consensus around the Cancer Mission among the politicians at the meeting.

“Missions and the EU’s work in this area is a part of our new cancer strategy and we have to collaborate on this, as well as collaborate with the EU. The mission concept is nothing new. It is first and foremost about achieving collaboration between the health service and the industry. Our cancer strategy will lay the basis for this: to gather all resources around a common goal,” said Even Røed, the Labour Party (Norway).

“We need to replace the income from oil and gas with new industries, which need to have large potentials. All Nordic countries have managed to make their health industries grow. Now we have the opportunity in Norway. The health service, academic milieus and industry are already gathering momentum, but there is a lack of political will. Norway has joined the Mission on Cancer, but how will it be implemented in Norway? There needs to be political will to build the health industry,” said Alfred Bjørlo, the Liberal Party (Norway).

“This is a really exciting method, to involve civil society, industry and academic milieus. I am most concerned about this being politically anchored. Will we see it when the new Cancer Strategy is presented? Will we see the Minister of Health together with the Minister of Industry and a representative from the European Union? Will we be connected to the Europen Union, or will this be a Norwegian hobby project, where we don’t take advantage of the big advantages we have?” asked Kristoffer Robin Haug, Green Party (Norway).


The meeting was organised by Oslo Cancer Cluster, the Norwegian Cancer Society, Legemiddelindustrien LMI, MSD Norway, Janssen Norway and AstraZeneca Norway. Thank you to our collaboration partners!


Arendalsuka 2023

Møt oss i Arendal! Vi skal sette kreftinnovasjon på den politiske dagsorden!

Våre arrangementer streames direkte via vår YouTube-kanal @OsloCancerCluster. 


Fremtidens kreftbehandling

Tirsdag 15. august, kl. 08.00-09.00, Clarion Hotel Tyholmen Sal A

Velkommen til frokostseminar om samfunnsoppdraget kreft.

Hvert år får 3,5 millioner europeere diagnosen kreft. Om utviklingen fortsetter, vil tallet være 4,3 millioner i 2035. Kreft er i dag den vanligste dødsårsaken i Norge og i flere europeiske land. Utfordringen på kreftområdet er med andre ord formidabel – og økende. Nettopp derfor har EU definert kreft som en av fem store samfunnsutfordringer, som har fått sine tilsvarende målrettede samfunnsoppdrag, såkalte missions. Disse oppdragene skal føre til løsningsforslag på vår tids største utfordringer innen miljø, klima og kreft.

Hvordan kan vi best lykkes med et samfunnsoppdrag på kreft i Norge? Hva har helsenæring og eksport med et samfunnsoppdrag på kreft å gjøre? Og er det ønskelig fra politisk hold å bruke missions som metode? Dette er sentrale spørsmål vi vil debattere med politikere og samfunnsaktører under dette frokostseminaret i møteserien Fremtidens kreftbehandling.

Arrangører: Oslo Cancer Cluster, Kreftforeningen, Legemiddelindustrien, Janssen Norge, MSD Norge, AstraZeneca Norge

Medisinsk innovasjon etter Inflation Reduction Act

Tirsdag 15. august, kl. 14.30-15.30, Clarion Hotel Tyholmen Sal A

Hvordan vil USAs enorme støttepakke til egen industri påvirke medisinsk innovasjon i Europa og Norge?  

Amerikanerne har lansert en støttepakke til egen industri, kalt Inflation Reduction Act. Denne vil påvirke investeringer i forskning og innovasjon i USA, og få ringvirkninger for Europa og Norge.

Inflation Reduction Act, som ble vedtatt i amerikansk lov i fjor, skal få fart på det grønne skiftet og redusere inflasjonen i USA. Men kommentatorer peker på at det vel så mye er en gigantisk pakke for å hente industri og arbeidsplasser hjem, blant annet gjennom subsidier. I pakken kommer også en rekke tiltak som påvirker utvikling av legemidler. Blant annet har flere legemiddelselskaper uttrykt bekymring for en betydelig usikkerhet knyttet til investeringer i forskning og utvikling, og at flere fremtidige kliniske studier kan bli satt på pause.

Hvordan skal Europa og Norge svare på dette?

Historisk har Europa vært ledende på medisinsk innovasjon, men de siste tjue årene har vi falt etter USA. I 2002 var forskjellen mellom investeringer i forskning og utvikling i helseteknologi mellom USA og Europa på 2 milliarder euro, og i dag har denne forskjellen blitt 25 milliarder euro. På tross av dette er Europa i en unik situasjon til å ta over lederrollen innen medisinsk innovasjon, med et helsevesen i verdensklasse, og en lang historie innen forskning og utvikling. Når USA nå satser tungt på egen industri, er det en mulighet for Europa til å intensivere sin egen innovasjonskraft innen helse.

Medisinsk innovasjon er avhengig av et levende økosystem mellom private aktører, helsetjenester og akademia. Derfor vil vi invitere aktører fra det norske økosystemet for å diskutere hvordan Europa, inkludert Norge, skal svare på den globale utviklingen som USA nå dytter framover med sin nasjonale støttepakke.

Arrangører: Oslo Cancer Cluster, Abbvie, Photocure

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The Future of Digital Health in Norway: Leading the Way

Onsdag 16. august, kl. 13.30-14.30, Rygerelektra

Digital solutions offer significant potential to enhance healthcare delivery and innovation for Norwegian businesses. Despite a multitude of available apps, global downloads, and opportunities, many healthcare systems struggle with effective utilization due to trust issues and market complexity. This event highlights successful European cases, aiming to inspire Norway to become a pioneer in secure and impactful digital healthcare solutions.


13:30 – Introduction and Moderation Presented by Stephen McAdam from DNV

13:35 – Norges strategi for implementering av digitale helse teknologier Presented by Lucie Aunan, Divisjonsdirektør at Direktoratet for eHelse (Presentation in Norwegian)

13:40 – The Importance of Certification for Norwegian Municipalities Presented by Terje Wistner, Director ehealth at KS

13:45 – Sleepio: Experience from the UK and Other Countries (Video)

13:48 – A European Perspective: What’s Working and What’s Not Presented by Liz Ashall Payne, CEO and Founder of Orcha

14:00 – Challenges of Implementing Digital Solutions in Norway Presented by Solvor Øverlien Magi, CEO of Lifeness

14:07 – Round Table Discussion Participants: KS, Lifeness, Orcha, CEO of Norwegian Smart Care Cluster Arild Kristensen representing Norwegian Health clusters

14:25 – Summarizing Comments Presented by Stephen McAdam

14:30 – Closing Remarks

Arrangører: Oslo Cancer Cluster, Norway Health Tech, Norwegian Smart Care Cluster, The Life Science Cluster, DNV

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Kan persontilpasset medisin bidra til å løse ressurskrisen i helsetjenesten?

Onsdag 16. august, kl. 16.30-17.30, Clarion Hotel Tyholmen Sal A

Konsortiet CONNECT inviterer til diskusjon om persontilpasset medisin i lys av ressurskrisen i helsetjenestene.

Hva er de største ressursutfordringene helsetjenesten står overfor – og hvordan kan persontilpasset medisin bidra til å løse disse?

I løpet av denne timen tar vi på oss fremtidsbrillene. Vi ser på hva den nye strategien for persontilpasset medisin sier om utsiktene for mer presis behandling, og hvordan blant annet data fra norske kreftpasienter kan bidra til en mer effektiv bruk av helsepersonell og ressurser.

Både fagfolk og politikere deler sitt syn på hva som vil skape bedre ressursbruk i helsetjenesten i årene framover, og hvilken plass persontilpasset medisin bør få i helsetjenesten.

Arrangører: CONNECT

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Gilead joins Oslo Cancer Cluster

The newest member of Oslo Cancer Cluster is Gilead, a biopharmaceutical company advancing innovative medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases.

Pascal van Peborgh, Senior Director Medical Affairs for Gilead Nordics answered some questions on why Gilead joins Oslo Cancer Cluster, how they are involved in the cancer field and why the Nordics is an important area for the company.

What is Gilead’s motivation to join Oslo Cancer Cluster (OCC)?

“Gilead’s ambition is to build strong partnerships with cancer research centers and oncology-focused organizations to accelerate research and ultimately provide Norwegian patients with novel therapeutic options. We want to work together with other OCC members on basic research topics and in finding ways to provide better access for patients who suffer from cancer. Part of this ambition was why we partnered in the CONNECT public-private partnership.”

Tell us more about Gilead’s investment in cancer and the company’s oncology pipeline.

“Gilead has a long history of bringing innovation to patients in improving patients’ outcomes and at times provided a cure for people facing specific life-threatening infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. Gilead is now applying the same approach and commitment to cancer. We have purposefully built a deep and broad oncology portfolio with a focus on trying to address critical unmet needs in oncology care.

“This framework defines our portfolio, with assets that have complementary MOAs and strong scientific rationale for treatment combination opportunities. From antibody-drug conjugates and small molecules to cell therapy-based approaches, our research and development programs are providing new hope for people with overlooked, underserved, and difficult-to-treat cancers.

This includes many of the most exciting and most promising targets in oncology today, with strong potential across tumor types, lines of treatment, and multiple opportunities for unique combination therapies. We have investigational agents in trials across varied solid tumors: breast, lung, GI, GU, including bladder, among many others. And in blood cancers: MDS, AML, LBCL, adult lymphoblastic leukemia and more. We are well positioned to establish Gilead as a leading Oncology company.”

What do you think about opportunities in Norway, and the Nordics, for the development of new cancer treatments? How do you view the milieus here for cancer research and health industry?

“We see Norway as a pioneer in Precision Medicine, e.g., the CONNECT and IMPRESS initiatives. It has also a strong history of registry data utilization, e.g., and building further new additions to cancer registry like INSPIRE BC and LC. Norway is also highly ranked for cancer research in Europe, with a government and policies supporting the development of precision medicines and clinical trials, with Inven2 and NorTrial being established as examples.

In addition, the systematization of care in Norway and especially around Oslo University Hospital provides a central node with adequate infrastructure, expertise, and innovation in the cancer research eco-system and more specifically for translational research and clinical trials. Finally, the Oslo University Hospital being an accredited Comprehensive Cancer Center with an extensive international network provides us with further confidence to invest in cancer research in Norway.

Do you have an ambition to launch cancer clinical trials in the Nordics?

“Our ambition is to continue to initiate new clinical trials within oncology in the Nordics in greater scope, and more specifically in Norway. We at Gilead, view the Nordic countries as having high-quality infrastructure that supports clinical research and studies. The countries have national support functions that provides information and services to researchers that are interested in clinical research – both for observational studies and for clinical interventional studies.

“Gilead, with its own R&D portfolio or through opt-in agreements has currently more than 70 ongoing oncology R&D programs focusing on three therapeutic strategies: triggering tumor intrinsic cell death, promoting immune-mediated tumor killing, and remodeling of the tumor microenvironment. To be able to fully deliver on this pipeline we will need close collaboration with clinical and academic research.”


Learn more about the members of Oslo Cancer Cluster by visiting our Member Overview page.