Immuno-oncology is a rapidly evolving area in oncology using the body’s own immune system to kill cancer cells. Recent innovation, clinical proof-of-concept and regulatory approvals indicate that cancer immunotherapy is here to stay and opens a new era in the treatment of cancer.

Over the past years, the rapid development of novel cancer immunotherapy approaches has fundamentally disrupted the oncology space. Immuno-oncology is using the body’s own immune system to kill cancer cells and is quickly becoming a key component in the treatment of an increasing number of cancer indications. Immuno-oncology has also reshaped priorities in oncology research and development across the industry, with unprecedented clinical success in certain cancer types and continues to fuel record investment and partnering activities.

Norway has early on focused on translational and clinical research in immuno-oncology. Today, several start-ups and biotechs are advancing a growing pipeline of preclinical and clinical immuno-oncology assets. Building on this, the “Norwegian Immuno-Oncology Consortium” was initiated in March 2013 by Oslo Cancer Cluster and Bristol-Myers Squibb with the aim to advance education, innovation and novel partnerships in this rapidly evolving space.

Core expertise within immuno-oncology exists along the value chain and across the member groups of Oslo Cancer Cluster and makes us well positioned to advance novel research insights into innovative treatments for cancer patients.

Selected activities:

Cancer Crosslinks

Cancer Crosslinks is a national meeting for the Norwegian oncology community with focus on immuno-oncology and precision medicine. Since 2009, Cancer Crosslinks has attracted several distinguished international immuno-oncology experts as keynote speakers, including Jeff Weber, NYU Langone Health, Gordon Freeman, Dana Farber, Mario Sznol, Yale Cancer Center, Renier Brentjens, MSKCC, Marcela Maus, Harvard Medical School/Mass General Cancer Center, Stefani Spranger, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and Naiyer Rizvi, Columbia University Medical Center. In 2019, the focus of the meeting was on the combination of immune-therapy and precision oncology (click here to watch selected videos of the presentations and find out more).

New immuno-oncology educational meeting series

The first meeting will be on 16 October 2019, organized with AstraZeneca, BMS, MSD and Roche, and will address treatment decisions for immuno-oncology and combination therapies. The topics include biomarkers and clinical information, patient communication, personalizing immuno-oncology (gaps, challenges and opportunities from a Norwegian and international perspective). Speakers are Prof. Keith Kerr, Department of Pathology, Aberdeen University Medical School & Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Associate Professor Henrik Schmidt, Head of Clinical Research Unit, Department of Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital. Since 2014, we have offered immuno-oncology educational meetings in various forms, including meetings and workshops.

International activities

There is a new business network created by four Norwegian immuno-oncology companies to advance partnering and business development activities in the US, including presence at the Cambridge Innovation Center. This will start in 2019.

We organised and moderated “Business Development Strategies in I-O: Compete – combine – collaborate” at BioEurope 2018 in Copenhagen.

We were part of a Nordic Immuno-Oncology Mission to the US East Coast in 2018 with 12 Nordic immuno-oncology companies. This included visits and meetings at academic medical centres, the NIH and pharma companies / research and development centres in Boston, New York and Bethesda.