Oslo Cancer Cluster`s start-ups highlighted in investor report

A recent analysis from the audit and advisory company EY is cautiously optimistic on behalf of startup companies in the Nordic Life Science industry – and points to possibilities within Oslo Cancer Cluster.

The analysis, which was commissioned by Norwegian Investinor and Swedish Industrifonden, points to four segments in the Nordic life science market that has the most mature startup companies, and thus are believed to be most attractive for investments: oncology (cancer treatment), inflammation treatment, niche products and imaging. From these segments, several startup companies have already appeared. They have also raised substantial capital.

Some Norwegian examples are Nordic Nanovector, BerGenBio and Targovax, which has raised a total of NOK 485 million in 2014 .These companies are all members of Oslo Cancer Cluster, developing cancer treatments using different technologies.

Excellent quality of research
The strength of the Nordic life science industry is the quality of the research performed, especially in some selected clusters, such as the Oslo Cancer Cluster. Scientific development is a key driver for innovation in the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry.

The biggest concern among life science industry players interviewed in the survey is however, the attention from investors, especially from professional investors with industry insights, which can handle the risks of investing in the earliest stages of company development.

─ The early phase of life science involves great risk, but can also give great returns, so investors should pay close attention to what is now happening in Oslo Cancer Cluster and corresponding clusters, says Ann- Tove Kongsnes, Investment Director of Investinor.

Investinor actively works to attract more foreign investors to Norwegian life science industry, and has also made ​​two investments together with Swedish Industrifonden in Oslo Cancer Cluster members Smartfish and Pharmalink.

 

 

 

 

Pharmaconutrition products for cancer patients

Doctor and nurse assessing the treatment of a cancer patient.

Smartfish is a Norwegian company developing synergistic omega 3 based pharmaconutrition products. Smartfih is now studying the effect of their phamaconutrition on the immune system, and would like to get in contact with Norwegian collaborators.

Smartfish joined the Oslo Cancer Cluster in 2014 and currently have two products on the market that have been clinically developed for the use of cancer patients; Nutrifriend 1100 and Nutrifriend 600. Their patented technology is basis for the product range of orally applied liquid emulsions ecpecially suitable for cancer patients.

Looking for collaborators
“Our core expertise as a company is to develop immune-modulating medical nutrition. Currently we have collaborations with both UCLA in the US and Karolinska in Sweden on a new type of medical nutrition we are developing containing curcumine. Recent findings suggests an effect on the natural killer cells (NK-cells) of the immunesystem, which are important in combating cancer,” says Janne Sande Mathisen, Co-Founder and R&D, Smartfish.

Smartfish is now looking for Norwegian collaborators within immuno-oncology/immunetherapy. Interested parties may contact Sande Mathisen directly:
E-mail: janne@smartfish.no or Mobile: + 47 93 20 87 02.

 

Positive results on bile duct cancer from PCI Biotech

The PCI Biotech stock went straight up on the Norwegian Stock Exchange after successful results from the first dose cohort in the phase I/II study of Amphinex in combination with the cytotoxic agent gemcitabine in patients with inoperable bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). No safety concerns were observed at this dose level.

PCI Biotech have previously shown promising results from phase I/II on head- and neck cancer using the same technology as in this phase I study on bile duct cancer, where the three first patients now has been treated.

Targeted therapy
The PCI-technology was developed at the Norwegian Radium Hospital in the nineties, and is a targeted therapy using light to enhance the effect of existing drugs. PCI is an abbreviation for photochemical internalisation and refers to the process of using light to destabilize the cell membrane of the cancer cells in order to deliver the cancer drug effectively.

Bile duct cancer is rare, but extremely severe. PCI Biotech have chosen bile duct cancer due to a clear medical need for a better local treatment, access with light is easy by using already established treatment procedures and one of the most used cytotoxic agents, gemcitabine, is one of the drugs that is significantly enhanced by PCI in preclinical studies.

Please read the press release here.

The PCI technology
Photochemical internalisation (PCI) technology is a technology for light-directed drug delivery, used to enhance the effect of drugs by targeted illumination of the diseased areas of the body.

About PCI Biotech
PCI Biotech has been listed on Oslo Stock Exchange since 2008. The company is offering effective local treatment solutions in cancer through its proprietary photochemical internalisation (PCI) technology. PCI Biotech’s lead photosensitiser Amphinex® is in Phase II clinical development in head and neck cancer in combination with the cytotoxic bleomycin and in Phase I/II clinical development in bile duct cancer in combination with gemcitabine. Read more on PCI Biotech’s website

ICCS 2014: Cutting-edge oncology innovations

International Cancer Cluster Showcase San Diego 2014

On June 22nd, one day prior to the BIO International Convention in San Diego, the International Cancer Cluster Showcase 2014 kicks off. The showcase is an opportunity to head-start the partnering at BIO 2014 and get the latest on what is going on in the cancer clusters of Oslo, Massachusetts, Quebec, Chicago, Toulouse, and the UK Golden Triangle.

For the 3rd time Oslo Cancer Cluster will present cutting edge innovations together with its international partners from North America and Europe. Oslo Cancer Cluster members selected to present at this year’s International Cancer Cluster Showcase (ICCS) are BerGenBio, PCI Biotech and Nextera.


ICCS – A winning concept

Previous ICCS-events have attracted 150 – 200 dedicated international oncology professionals. Positive feedback has encouraged Oslo Cancer Cluster and its international partners to continue with this meeting format. BerGenBio’s CEO Richard Godfrey says:

“The ICCS was a great start to BIO 2013, it was interesting to see the other cancer companies present and we made a few excellent contacts that otherwise we may not have connected with. I will certainly be present at ICCS 2014.”

This year two new partners, namely Cancer Campus from Villejuif and Stockholm-Uppsala Life Sciences are joining the ICCS and contribute to leverage the portfolio of oncology partnering opportunities. The International Cancer Cluster Showcase 2014 will be hosted at the San Diego Convention Centre, same site as the BIO 2014 will be hosted.

For information on presenting companies and registration, please see the ICCS conference website: www.internationalcancercluster.org.

 

BIO International Convention 23-26 June, 2014
Oslo Cancer Cluster will also be represented at the world’s largest biotech conference, BIO International Convention. This year the event is taking place on 23-26 June in San Diego, California at the San Diego Convention Center.

Oslo Cancer Cluster will share a centrally located booth with the other Nordic regions; Medicon Valley Alliance, Biopeople, Invest in Skåne and Copenhagen Capacity. All Oslo Cancer Cluster members may display material at the booth which will function as a central meeting place for the members, coordinated by the Oslo Cancer Cluster team.

Building strong international networks to stimulate collaboration, partnerships and thereby innovation for our members is a key strategic goal for Oslo Cancer Cluster. Read more here.

More information about BIO 2014 is found at convention.bio.org.

“Helsemyggordningen” proposed for the Norwegian Parliament

The liberal party Venstre have proposed the implementation of the “Helsemyggordningen,” a financial mechanism for stimulation of health innovation, for the Norwegian Parliament. The proposal have been designated to the The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs in the Parliament.

“Helsemyggordningen” was raised for the Norwegian Parliament on March 19th as a so-called Document 8-proposal. The “Helsemyggordningen” is inspired by a similar and highly successful mechanism to stimulate innovation in the oil and gas sector, named “oljemyggordningen” – hence the name.

Joint cluster proposal
Oslo Cancer Cluster, Oslo Medtech and Nansen Neuroscience Network proposed the “Helsemyggordningen” jointly at a meeting in December 2013, were a report from Menon Buiness Economics analysing the effect of the instrument was made public. The report concludes that this is a scheme that may be implemented in a simple way, and may be very effective in stimulating health innovations.

The three clusters are all very pleased that the liberal party Venstre have lifted the initiative politically.

Read the Document 8-proposal from Venstre here.
Read the report of “Helsemyggordningen” from Menon Business Economics here.

Bergen Bio Raises MNOK 75

BerGenBio AS, an oncology biopharmaceutical company, announces that it has raised NOK75 million (c.$12.5 million) from a syndicate of new and existing investors through a private placement. This follows a $6.0 million round in May 2013.

Proceeds from the financing will be used to support the development of the Company’s innovative portfolio of innovative cancer therapeutics.This includes the on-going clinical development of its lead drug candidate, BGB324, a first-in-class selective AXL kinase inhibitor, which is currently in Phase Ib clinical studies to evaluate its safety and initial signs of efficacy to treat different cancers as a single agent and in combination with other drugs.

Fund pipeline advancement
The funds raised will be used to complete these studies, data from which is anticipated in 2015. BGB324 is the only selective Axl receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor in clinical development to target tumour epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and has a potential application as a novel treatment for drug-resistant solid and hematological cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer and acute myeloid leukemia.

Richard Godfrey, CEO of BerGenBio commented: “I would like to thank our new and existing investors for their support. This important funding will enable us to advance our pipeline to key value inflection points. We believe that targeting Axl is a promising new approach to treating drug resistant cancers. We look forward to using this investment to continue exploring the clinical opportunity for our lead Axl inhibitor, BGB324, and our other candidate compounds.”

Huge market potential
Sveinung Hole, Managing Partner Sarsia Seed commented “At the seed stage we recognised the huge addressable market potential for BerGenBio`s EMT inhibitors and have continued to support the Company throughout its development. I am delighted the Company continues to attract funding and is able to progress its promising pipeline of novel targeted cancer therapies through further clinical development and realising significant value gain.

Ann-Tove Kongsnes, Investment Director, Investinor AS added, `we are excited by the Company’s prospects and are confident in the management team’s ability to drive these programs forward.”


About the Axl kinase receptor

The Axl tyrosine kinase receptor is regarded as one of the most promising new therapeutic targets for cancer drug  development It is upregulated in tumours residing in a hostile micro-environment and plays a crucial role in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which in turn is a key driver of metastasis (cancer spread) and a mechanisms of acquired drug-resistance.

About BerGenBio AS
BerGenBio AS is a biopharmaceutical company located in Bergen, Norway. The company is committed to developing first in class therapeutics that inhibit tumor EMT, preventing the formation of cancer stem cells and disrupting the important mechanisms of acquired cancer drug resistance. The company is founded on proprietary platform technology called CellSelect™, which uses information from RNAi screening studies to identify and validate novel drug targets and biomarkers. BGB324 is the first compound in BerGenBio’s pipeline to enter clinical trials, with additional compounds and drug targets at different stages of preclinical development. www.bergenbio.com

 

5 Oslo Cancer Cluster SMEs granted BIA-funding

Per Walday, CEO, PCI Biotech

The Norwegian Research Council recently granted BerGenBio, PCI Biotech, Lytix Biopharma, Oncoinvent and Ultimovacs –  all Oslo Cancer Cluster member companies – funding  through the Programme for User-Driven Research Based Innovation (BIA).

In total, the Research Council will grant a record amount of 444 million to 58 Norwegian companies over four years, of which 10 are biotech companies – which is also a new record.

BerGenBio, Lytix Biopharma, PCI Biotech, Oncoinvent and Ultimovacs will receive around 10 million NOK each over 4 years, depending on the outcome of the contract negotiations between the council and the company. Funding from the  BIA programme is a quality stamp since the companies compete in “open class” where all sectors are represented. The funding may also in turn trigger interest  from private investors.

On the Research Council`s website you may find the total list of all the 58 companies (in Norwegian) and read more about the funding from the BIA-programme.