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

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.

Kommentar: Jeg deler, altså arbeider jeg

Kommentaren stod på trykk i Finansavisen 26.02.2018 og er skrevet av Ketil Widerberg, leder i Oslo Cancer Cluster og Nard Schreurs, direktør e-helse i IKT-Norge.

Vi må snakke om hvordan vi skal forvalte våre helsedata før det er for sent.

På jobb får vi betalt for det vi deler og gir av tid, kreativitet eller kompetanse. Hva med alle data vi deler?

Da internettet og senere smarttelefonene kom, valgte de fleste å gi sine data gratis til tjenestetilbyderne i bytte mot nye tjenester. Google vet hva vi søker på. Selskapets søkealgoritmer er enestående og hjelper oss å finne frem i den uoverkommelige informasjonsjungelen. Google får mye data om oss, og det tjener de gode penger på. Det samme gjør Facebook, banker og butikker. De tjener gode penger på data som vi gir fra oss gratis.

Så langt har det vært forbrukerdata som vi selv velger å gi bort. Nå står vi foran en ny bølge digitalisering der helsedata slippes fri. Apper måler vårt blodtrykk og våre bevegelser. I Storbritannia har myndighetene frigitt tilgang til genetiske data fra en halv million mennesker. Formålet er å utvikle bedre tjenester og skaffe forskning som kan gi oss alle bedre helse.

Er “forbrukermodellen” der vi gir dataene gratis fra oss den beste måten å håndtere dette? Eller finnes det måter vi som innbyggere og som samfunn kan oppnå høyere verdiskaping og bedre helse?

Enkelt sagt er det tre modeller som utpeker seg. La oss presentere dem kort, uten å gå nærmere inn på viktige dimensjoner som personvern og samtykke.

Første modell er fri bruk av data, som i forbrukermodellen. Helsedata frigjøres for alle som ønsker å drive innovasjon, uansett hvor de kommer fra, og i utgangspunktet også uansett hvilket mål de måtte ha. Litt som vi har gjort med kart, GPS, eller værdata. Fordelen med denne modellen er innovasjon som bidrar til et bedre samfunn og økonomisk virksomhet. Vi gir fra oss data for å få bedre tjenester. Ulempen er at det ikke er gitt at verdiskapningen skjer i Norge eller at verdien tilfaller de som gir fra seg data.

Andre modell er å låse inn dataene og be om en gjenytelse for å få bruke dem. Det kan være penger, lisens eller krav at dataene er knyttet til norske virksomheter. Fordelen er at globale teknologi- og pharmaselskaper skal dele verdien våre helsedata representerer. Ulempen er at selv om det ikke er feil at man skal dele verdien, vil modellen i praksis sannsynligvis ikke fungere. Det er få eksempler der innelåste data økonomisk kan konkurrere med frie data.

I den tredje modellen fungerer data som arbeid. Fordelene ved en slik modell er mange. Når vi bruker vår tid, kreativitet eller kompetanse får vi betalt for det. Hvorfor skulle vi ikke få betalt når vi generer data? I et heldigitalisert samfunn, der dataene om oss og fra oss er sentrale verdier, er det unaturlig at de brukes uten at vi får en økonomisk ytelse for det. Som eksempel er det mulig å tenke at på en blockchain-basert plattform knyttes helsedata opp mot individuelle kontoer. Hver gang dataene brukes får vi en (mikro)betaling. Slik får både vi som individer og dermed også det norske samfunnet betalt for det.

Vi ser at det er en del ulemper med siste modellen også, og vi tror ikke at det er det endelige svaret. Det vil derimot være fornuftig å ta en bredere samfunnsdebatt om hvordan vi skal forvalte våre helsedata, hvem som skal eie dem, og hvordan de skal bidra til verdiskapning, før det er for sent.

 

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.

Biotech Embrace IT Knowledge

— We have succeeded in bringing more IT knowledge to the Biotech world, says Project Manager of PERMIDES D.B.R.K. Gupta Udatha.

 

Merging IT and Biotech
Together with five European clusters, Oslo Cancer Cluster have been managing a Horizon 2020 EU project “PERMIDES”. The cluster-to-cluster projects main goal was to stimulate collaboration between biotech companies and IT companies, in the end to create more innovative and personalized cancer treatments.

The total volume of what the project has managed to achieve makes it a success, Gupta Udatha believes.

— The IT sector is developing fast. We now have tools like Big Data, Machine Learning, Blockchain and more. All this can be amazingly helpful for a Biotech company if they get help understanding the technology. This is what PERMIDES has provided! On a more basic level we have freed Bio-businesses from the clutching grasp of excel sheets and presented more effective computer solutions.

Results and Speed
And the program has provided an abundance of results.

  • PERMIDES supported 88 Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of the bio-pharmaceutical sector from 18 European countries
  • 119 grant applications have been submitted for innovation projects
  • 51 are funded for a total of € 2.65 M.

Furthermore, biopharma SMEs in need of consultancy services could apply for consultancy vouchers, each amounting to a maximum of 5,000 Euros. From a total of 91 applications, 41 are now financially supported by consultancy vouchers with a total funding volume of 261,000 Euros.

Another successful part of PERMIDES is how effective it has been

— Speed is a key factor of PERMIDES, which funds innovation projects for a maximum of half a year. The success of PERMIDES is further supported by the comparatively short review process of a maximum of three months between application submission and funding commitment, says Gupta Udatha.

Full Overview
If you want to take a closer look at what the PERMIDES project has achieved, check their brand new database.

— There you will not only find extensive information about the projects, but also about the project partners. Take a look at this information source and see for yourself the innovative solutions of European SMEs. Currently the projects of the first cut-off date are available. In the next few weeks, we will also add the projects of the second cut-off date and publish the Consultancy Voucher projects, says Gupta Udatha.

PERMIDES database.

For funded bio-pharmaceutical companies, there is still the possibility until mid of 2018 to receive a follow-up coaching by the PERMIDES team. The coaching includes, for example, information about further funding opportunities, support in applying for additional funding or further networking with companies and research institutions from the IT industry.

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