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Three new board members of Oslo Cancer Cluster: Per Morten Sandset, Gunhild M. Maelandsmo and Cathrine Lofthus

New board members

We are happy to welcome three new members to the board of Oslo Cancer Cluster. Find out what they had to say about entering their new positions.

Per Morten Sandset

Per Morten Sandset

Per Morten Sandset is a Senior Consultant in hematology at the Oslo University Hospital and a professor in thrombosis research at the University of Oslo. He has previously been head of the Department of Hematology and Deputy Director of the Medical Division at Ullevål University Hospital and Director of Research, Innovation and Education of the southeastern Norway Health Region. He is currently Vice-Rector at the University of Oslo with responsibilities for research and innovation including the life sciences activities of the university. Sandset has published more than 315 original publications and supervised 30 PhD students.

Why did you join the board of Oslo Cancer Cluster?

“There are currently strong political expectations that the many scientific achievements in the life sciences can be utilized, commercialized and eventually form the basis for new industry.”

“Oslo Cancer Cluster has matured to become a major player of the research  and innovation ecosystem within the life science area in Oslo and also on a national level. This is why being on the board is so interesting and important.”

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

“As a OCC board member, I want to strengthen and develop the collaboration across the sectors, i.e., between the hospitals and the university – and between academia and industry. On a larger scale, it is about establishing a regional ecosystem that take achievements of the basic sciences into the development of enterprises. Oslo Cancer Cluster should maintain its role as the major player in the cancer area.”

Gunhild M. Mælandsmo

Gunhild Mari Mælandsmo

Gunhild M. Mælandsmo is the head of Department of Tumor Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital where she also is heading the “Metastasis Biology and Experimental Therapeutics” research group. She is a Professor at Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø.

Why did you join the board of Oslo Cancer Cluster?

“I think the concept of Oslo Cancer Cluster is very interesting, fostering a close collaboration between academia, health care providers and the health industry. 

“Focusing on translational research for many years, I think I can contribute in the board with valuable experience in several parts of the value chain; from basic science, from translational aspects and from my close collaboration with clinical partners as well as administrative experience.”

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

“I hope I can contribute with valuable knowledge – both from cancer research and from my administrative experience from Oslo University Hospital. I also hope to see more products from small Norwegian companies reaching clinical testing and expanding the biotech industry. Finally, I hope to see the Norwegian health care system more active in providing precision cancer medicine (and to utilise the advantages we have when it comes to registries etc).”

Cathrine M. Lofthus

Cathrine M. Lofthus

Cathrine M. Lofthus is the CEO at the Norwegian South East Regional Health Authority (Helse Sør-Øst RHF). She has previously held several leading positions at Aker University Hospital and at Oslo University Hospital. Lofthus is a qualified doctor from the University of Oslo, where she also completed a PhD in endocrinology. She also holds qualifications in economy, administration and leadership, and has experience from the health sector as a clinician, researcher and leader. Lofthus also holds directorships in Norsk helsenett and KLP, in addition to being a member of the board of National e-Health.

 

We also wish to extend a special thank you to our previous board members:

  • Kirsten Haugland, Head of the Research and Prevention Department at the Norwegian Cancer Society.
  • Inger Sandlie, professor at the Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo and research group leader at the Department of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital.
  • Øyvind Bruland, professor of clinical oncology at the University of Oslo and consultant oncologist at The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital.

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.

Creating a SPARK in Innovation and Industry

Stanford programme SPARK provides a shimmer of hope for startup companies. Now, SPARK sets sights on Norway. What exactly is SPARK?

We live in a world where technological and innovative solutions in medicine and healthcare are steadily pouring in. Not to mention, these solutions have the power to completely transform the health-sector in pinpointing and curing diseases before they even take hold.

Why, then, is it that we have the power to revolutionize healthcare, but don’t see it happen?

Unfortunate answer
The unfortunate answer lies in the explanation that most of these technological and innovative solutions have a tough time reaching the bedside from the bench. Reason being lack of funding, marketing or other important factors that help an industry flourish. How can we resolve this?

A solution
Enter SPARK: the Stanford programme that provides a unique partnership between the industry and university.

SPARK provides the necessary factors that help start-up and small companies to advance research breakthroughs. This is done by providing the education and mentorship needed to move the project along further.

SPARK scholars
More specifically, it works by providing graduate level courses about drug-development processes as well as “SPARK Scholars”—funding for project development and mentoring. This mentoring is provided by advisors who have expertise in product development, business, clinical care and generally preparing participants for generating research into therapies.

Coming to Norway
The University of Oslo : Life Sciences is planning to bring Stanford’s programme to Norway where two other European SPARK-programmes have visited Oslo in the summer to share their experiences. One of the univesity’s candidates has tested the programme at summer-school in Japan, as well.

 

Innovative solutions
Oslo Cancer Cluster has been an advocate for SPARK’s involvement in Norway, along along with the Norwegian Inflammation Network (NORIN), The Life Science Cluster and Norway Health Tech (previously Oslo Medtech).

Jutta Heix, the international advisor at Oslo Cancer Cluster, comments on SPARK’s involvement:

–The SPARK programme really fills a gap in the lively and growing biopharma innovation system here in Norway and will help to advance more projects and ideas from academia into innovative solutions for patients. In collaboration with SPARK Berlin and SPARK Finland, SPARK Norway will also contribute to building a European SPARK Network providing even broader support, exposure and collaboration opportunities for the academic innovators involved.  

 

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.

Summer party 2018

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.

Precision Oncology Team

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.

Doing More in Prognosis and Diagnosis

The project DoMore! aims to achieve better and faster diagnosis and prognosis with information and communication technology solutions. 

 

Technological innovation brightens the future ahead. With an increase in investment towards these areas, we create not only further potential in the technological field, but see betterment in the area it was produced for – such as productivity, reliability, effectiveness and so on. This is great news, especially in terms of cancer treatment where continuous betterment is essential. But how, and to what effect, is this done?

Project DoMore! has the answers.

The project, funded by the Norwegian Research Council and including members of Oslo Cancer Cluster’s team, debates the future of doing more with modernized thinking.

How do they do it?
This is done by putting more effort into research and development of information and communication technology solutions to supplement, or even replace, methods in pathology: the study of causality in diseases. DoMore!, in this case, will increase productivity and quality of cancer treatment.

Close-up of a cancerous tumour within the intestine. The green line represents manual marking of the tumour, while the blue is automated. Photo: Institute for Cancer Genetics and Informatics

The Ambition
The goal, then, is to decrease the slight human error brought on by complex decision making and visual observation to a computer basis with unbiased, reproducible and greater accuracy in algorithms. By doing this, DoMore! hopes to increase efficiency in pathology, methods and markers to aid the clinician in giving better and more personalised treatment to cancer patients everywhere.

On top of this, DoMore! believes the same efficiency will apply to patents, publications, products and spin-off companies, as well as decreasing overall cost and treatment time.

Harbinger of Innovation
In regards to the importance of this project, Ketil Widerberg, who is General Manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster, highlights:

– Project DoMore! furthers the innovative process. This combination of biology and technology will become increasingly important, especially in the area of pathology. Ultimately, Project DoMore! is setting a great example of being the harbinger of our adapting future.

Targeting the Big Three
As of now, project DoMore! will be focusing on three major cancer forms: lung, colorectal and prostate cancer. These account for 44% of all deaths brought on by cancer and are amongst the most common.

Better Prognosis and Diagnosis Ahead
Undoubtedly, project DoMore! is set out to achieve great things. Already within the bright future of 2021, they hope to offer much securer and faster systems for diagnosis and prognosis amongst cancer patients.

New board members 2017

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!

 

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