How our genes will change cancer

Doctors, researchers and audience gather at breakfast to learn about genetics, data and how working together will help beat cancer.

The time is 8:15. Many have started to file in and shuffle to their seats while chatting and occasionally sipping their first morning coffee. As it starts to quiet down, the lights are dimmed, the audience wake up and the breakfast meeting begins.

An air of seriousness with a hint of respect changes the atmosphere, and the audience watches as the first guest speaker steps in and introduces the concept of genes and their relation to cancer.

– Cancer is brought on by errors in our genes. Most of the time, cancer is a result of the unlucky, says Borge, who is the director at the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board.

This is the start of his talk on genes and cancer, where the audience is introduced to that which defines us most: DNA, the molecule of life.

To the moon and back
– 20,310 recipes in our genetic material. 2 meters of DNA in every cell. 10 Billion cells, of which 20 billion meters of DNA is found. If you do the math, astonishingly it amounts to 26,015 trips back and forth to the moon, Borg says, as he shows us a visual representation on the powerpoint slide. (See video in Norwegian.)

It’s this incredibly long strand of genetic material where things can go horribly wrong. If there’s a genetic error, or mutation in the DNA that happens to take place between the double helix and if there’s enough errors, cancer happens. This is the unfortunate fate for many of us.

– However, we may not have come a long way in finding the ultimate cure for cancer, but what we have accomplished is the ability and possibility of analysing, and ultimately predicting, cancer through genome sequencing, Borge says.

It was the best of times…
This message, as a central theme to the breakfast meeting taking place, shines a hopeful light in an otherwise frightful and serious subject. With genome sequencing, or list of our genes, scientists and doctors will have greater accuracy to predict genes that are potential carriers, and highly susceptible to, different cancers.

However, this requires a large amount of genome sequences: we need an army of genome data.

From terminal to chronic
To set further example, the next speaker to take the stage is oncologist Odd Terje Brustugun. He stresses the importance of personalized treatment for lung cancer patients, even those with metastatic cancers. These patients can be tested today to see if they are viable to receive new kinds of treatmemt, such as targeted therapy. This was the case for lung-cancer patient, and survivor for five years, Kari Grønås.

Kari Grønås was able to participate in a clinical study. She was treated with targeted therapy instead of the ordinary treatment for lung cancer patients at that time: chemotherapy.

– I feel I have gone from feeling like I have a terminal disease to a chronic one, she says from the podium.

Beating cancer: the story of us
This personalized approach is arguably what worked for Kari, setting the example and potential for the future. If we can analyse our own genes for potential cancer, then we are both able to prevent and provide personalized medicine catered to the individual. This is why genome sequencing is important for the future.

However, this cannot be done alone. To get a representable treatment for the individual, we need data. And data does not come reliably from one individual, but from the many.

– It is not your genes that are the key for tomorrows cancer research, it is ours. It is collaboration where large amounts of data and correlation will give us the knowledge that ensures the right path towards the future. A future with better cancer treatment for all, says Ole Johan Borge.

Helping biotech companies through innovative IT solutions

The cluster-to-cluster project PERMIDES stimulates collaboration between biotech companies and IT companies. Its goal is to develop more innovative, personalized cancer treatments.

 

Oslo Cancer Cluster is currently involved in a big European collaboration through the cluster-to-cluster project PERMIDES.

24 May you can benefit from the project by joining the BIOMED INFORMATICS workshop in Oslo. This workshop brings together small and medium sized companies from the biopharma/medtech and IT sectors. (See the sidebar for more info on this event.)

PERMIDES aims to utilize novel IT-solutions to accelerate drug development in biotech companies. Biotechs and the healthcare sector generally lag in using IT in their everyday work.


Can get better at IT

“I know of companies who still manage their clinical trial studies using Excel. This is not a good idea. An Excel sheet may only hold a limited amount of data before it crashes and you lose everything”, says Gupta Udatha.

Udatha is the PERMIDES project leader in Norway. He divides his time between Oslo and Halden, where the NCE Smart Energy Markets-cluster is situated. This cluster is mainly involved in IT. Other clusters participating in the project are from Austria and Germany.


Ambitious goals for next year

Before PERMIDES ends in 2018, it aims to have reached some ambitious goals:

  • 90 innovation projects between IT and biotechs will have received funding through a voucher system
  • 120 IT companies and biotech companies will have benefited from technology transfer activities
  • 75 enterprises will have participated in networking conferences at both regional and European levels
  • 100 companies will have placed their profile in a semantic matchmaking portal: the PERMIDES platform


Find your ideal match

The PERMIDES platform is designed to match IT-companies and biotech companies. As a supplementary service, Gupta Udatha and others involved in PERMIDES are currently busy arranging matchmaking events all over Europe. They try to find the perfect match between IT- and biotech companies interested in collaborating on projects on personalized medical treatment.

Through PERMIDES voucher funding, a biotech company can avail services for up to 60 000 Euros from an IT-company. This gives them a market advantage in digitalizing their processes.

“The health care and biopharma sectors must understand that new IT solutions are the way forward. Tasks which a company may spend weeks and months doing, may easily be done by a few smart IT-solutions, in just few clicks, says Udatha.


Pursuing new EU-programs

PERMIDES is the first EU-project Oslo Cancer Cluster is involved in, but it will not be the last. Oslo Cancer Cluster is actively seeking new EU-projects to apply for.

This year, Oslo Cancer Cluster and Oslo Medtech, another health cluster in Norway, are looking into new EU-projects to apply for together. They have received support from the Norwegian Research Council, that wants more Norwegian institutions and companies to get involved in EU-projects.

“Hopefully, we will have landed ten new EU-project applications by 2019”, says Udatha.

 

What PERMIDES is

  • Stands for Personalized Medicine Innovation through Digital Enterprise Solutions
  • The project is for European small and medium sized enterprises in biotech and IT
  • The aim is to strengthen the competitiveness and foster the innovation potential of personalized medicine as an emerging industry in Europe
  • PERMIDES offers workshops, funding schemes and a matchmaking portal for the participating companies
  • Read more on permides.eu


Clusters involved in PERMIDES
Oslo Cancer Cluster S.A (Norway)
NCE Smart Energy Markets, c/o Smart Innovation Østfold AS (Norway)
Software-Cluster c/o CyberForum e.V. (Germany)
Cluster für Individualisierte ImmunIntervention (Ci3) e.V. (Germany)
Intelligent views GmbH (Germany)
NETSYNO Software GmbH (Germany)
Oncotyrol – Center for Personalized Cancer Medicine GmbH (Austria)
IT-Cluster – Business Upper Austria, OÖ Wirtschaftsagentur GmbH (Austria)


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.

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

 

The Economist & Oslo Cancer Cluster: War on Cancer Nordics

Oslo Cancer Cluster is proud to be partner of The Economist Events War On Cancer Nordics.

The War on Cancer Nordics 2017 in Oslo will gather leaders in oncology from the Nordic region and beyond, to discuss the region’s primary challenges in cancer care and control. The event will bring together policy makers, NGOs, academia, research and health care professionals, patient groups and cancer control institutes with private sector business leaders.

 

Questions we will answer

  • How much does cancer cost the Nordic countries per year both in terms of treatment costs and its impact on the labour market?
  • Would a unified Nordic oncology framework be desirable? 
  • What can be learnt from countries that have made more progress in prevention initiatives? 
  • How could research in immuno-oncology be scaled across the region to improve outcomes for patients? 
  • What role will new technologies play in shaking up cancer care, from prevention, through diagnosis, to treatment and to optimise symptoms and quality of life?

 

Founding sponsor: The Research Council og Norway and silver sponsor: Roche

DoMore! receives Lighthouse project grant from the Norwegian Research Council

The Norwegian Research Council IKTPLUSS has selected The DoMore! project application as one of the 3 winners of the prestigious Lighthouse Project grant. The Lighthouse Project winning proposals were announced at the Norwegian E-health conference on the 26th april 2016.

 

The DoMore! project aims to explore the unique combination of academic and industrial competence within the project group to radically improve prognostication and hence treatment of cancer by using digital tools for pathology. ​The DoMore! project focuses on heterogene​​ity in cancer​ and is led by Institute Director Håvard Danielsen.​

​By largely digitalizing and automating diagnostics and prognostication of cancer, we can literally DoMore! and analyze a ​greater number of samples from the same tumor​,​ ​leading to a more precise diagnosis for each patient​ ​​​​Safe storage, analysis and prosessing of the​ ​B​ig ​D​ata​ the project will produce will also be handled by the project partners.

The ​DoMore!​ ​team ​is composed ​of experts within several fields, including: digital imaging, processing, robotics, pathology, cell biology, surgery and oncology, both in Norway and abroad​​. ​​Together, we will create solutions that will​​ ​​​​allow​ us to DoMore!, resulting in objective cancer diagnostics that can be made available to all patients.

Read more about the DoMore!-project here.

NLSDays 2015: Meet international life science leaders and discuss the sector’s future at the Nordic region’s largest partnering meeting

NLSDays September 9-10 at Stockholm Waterfront is the Nordic region’s premier life science event. The global life science sector is undergoing major structural changes, and as part of a strong established hub, companies in Sweden and the Nordic countries are of great interest when international investors and corporations are looking for new partners.

The entire value chain from basic research to the introduction of new therapies is subject to transformation – not least due to rapid developments in digital health. Life science companies therefore need to find new ways to collaborate and fund their projects. Since the Nordic region offers a modern, competitive environment for academia and research companies alike, the region has become highly attractive for the global life science industry.

  • NLSDays has become the most important meeting place for global investors and corporations that are looking for new collaborations in the Nordic region. The event is on course for record numbers and deals such as the recent one between Alligator Bioscience and Janssen Biotech which illustrates that Swedish companies offer major value to partners, says Jonas Ekstrand, CEO SwedenBIO, the Swedish national life science industry organization which founded the event three years ago.

Overall, the life science sector is currently very active in the Nordic countries. For example, the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, an investment of around 100 million Euros opens today (24 August). Furthermore, AstraZeneca recently announced a Euros 260 million investment in a new plant for bio-pharmaceutical production and from January 2014, 18 life science companies across all subsectors from medtech to biopharma have been listed on Nasdaq Nordic at a combined value of about Euros 250 million (Source Nasdaq). Furthermore, initiatives and companies in new areas such as personalized medicine, digital health and outcomes based provision are emerging at an accelerating pace.

During Nordic Life Science Days 2015 the main theme is “The New Value Chain”. The 2 day program covers several sessions in which international life science leaders will discuss strategies on how new partnerships can be established and how medical research and the life science industry in the Nordics can contribute.

Super Sessions from the program:

  • International Investors (9 September at 11.30 – 12.30)

International life science investors talk about their investment models and what they look for from entrepreneurs.

  • Personalized Healthcare – Matching Medicines to Patients (September 10 at 08:45 – 09-45)

How will big data and new diagnostic methods impact the future of medical research and treatment modalities? Listen to how the Digital Doctor Watson can revolutionize health care.

  • Oncology 2025 (10 September 11.30 – 12.30)

Immuno-oncology is hotter than ever and there is an ongoing competition between the big global companies to take on the most promising projects. Representatives from several of the major players talk about their strategies.

Currently, 800 delegates are registered for this year’s NLSDays, which is 33% more than at the corresponding time last year. This strongly indicate that the meeting will attract over 1,000 participants, outnumbering last year’s number of delegates.

The conference is organized September 9-10, 2015 at Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Nils Ericssons Plan 4 in Stockholm. More info on www.nlsdays.com.

 

About NLSDays

Founded in 2012 the Nordic Life Science Days has grown rapidly to become the largest Nordic partnering conference for the global life science industry. In 2014, 890 delegates from 28 countries attended the meeting. The 580 companies attending offered 490 licensing opportunities in the partnering system and during the two days 1600 one-on-one meetings were scheduled. Among the investors and big pharma already registered for the meeting in September 2015 are AbbVie, Alexion, Almi Invest, Astellas, AstraZeneca, Bayer HealthCare, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cadila Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, HealthCap, Industrifonden, Karolinska Development, Merck-MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, Pierre Fabre, P.U.LS. AB, Recipharm, Roche, Seventure Partners, SR-One.

In addition to partnering, NLSDays also offers an exhibition and a seminar program with 10 super session and four topic specific workshops. Speakers include senior representatives from the global life science companies, investors, and academic leaders who will all share their expertise and views for the future.

About SwedenBIO

SwedenBIO who is the founder and organizer of the Nordic Life Science Days is the Swedish life science industry organization. Our nearly 200 members operate across all sub-sectors from pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology to diagnostics. SwedenBIO serves to the benefit the entire life science industry in Sweden and is a member-driven, private, non-profit organization. The main objective is to improve the conditions for the life science industry for the benefit of industry growth and business development.

 

Oncology Super Session in Stockholm

Oslo Cancer Cluster is hosting a Super Session at the Nordic Life Science Days in Stockholm. International thought leaders will discuss current game changing innovations and their impact on the industry in the years ahead.

Oncology is at the forefront of realizing the promises of precision medicine. Huge and complex datasets are exploited for novel drug development as well as for informed and real-time care decisions. Emerging Cancer immunotherapies represent a paradigm shift for cancer treatment triggering a global R&D race and novel partnerships. Furthermore, the convergence of the genetics and digital revolution creates novel types of products, companies and growth opportunities transforming the sector.

 

Moderator: Mr. Richard Godfrey, CEO, BergenBio, Norway

Session Outline:

 

Min Topic Speaker
5 Introduction by moderator ·        Dr. Richard Godfrey, CEO BerGenBio

 

10 Topic 1 –global company – perspectives from industry leader – Precision Medicine ·        Dr. Vaios Karanikas, Senior Biomarker and Experimental Medicine Leader, Tumor Immunology, Roche Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development, Innovation Center Zurich
10 Topic 2 – Digital Health company – Big Data / artificial intelligence -> impact on cancer R&D and care ·        Dr. Anthony Bak, Principal Data Scientist, Ayasdi
10 Topic 3 – global company – perspectives from industry leader – Immuno-Oncology ·        Dr. Tim Fisher, Global Lead, Immuno-Oncology / Oncology, Search & Evaluation, Bristol-Myers Squibb
25 Panel Discussion ·        All speakers, joined by Dr. Erik Lund, Director, Worldwide Licensing at MSD (Merck & Co., Inc.)

 

Target Audience: Start-ups, Biotechs, Pharma, investors, academic innovators, TTOs

 

255 MNOK to biomedical research

The Norwegian Research Council recently announced four large investments in biomedical research on a total of 255 MNOK.

Of these investments, 60 MNOK will go to to sequencing and precision medicine, 80 MNOK to national biobanks, 65 MNOK to brain research and 50 MNOK to Norwegian Clinical Research Infrastructure Network.

– This is great news. Biomedical research affects not only a nation’s health, but international competitiveness too, says Ketil F. Widerberg, General Manager in Oslo Cancer Cluster in a comment.

For more information: http://www.forskningsradet.no/no/Nyheter/13_milliarder_til_forskningsutstyr/1254010677263/p1174467583739