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. Read more at www.thermofisher.com

More about cancer research in Thermo Fisher.

 

 

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.

 

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.

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

 

 

 

Targovax ASA: Annual Report 2016

On 15 March 2017, the Board of Directors of Targovax ASA approved the financial statements for 2016 for issuance, subject to approval by the Annual General meeting on April 5, 2017.

Please find here the Annual Report with financial statements for 2016.

 

For further information, please contact:

Renate Birkeli, Investor Relations

Phone: +47 922 61 624

Email: renate.birkeli@targovax.com

 

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

 

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