Cancer researcher Anette Weyergang demonstrates the PCI technology to Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Photo: Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park

Granted PDT/PCI projects 2021

Erna Solberg visits PCI Biotech

Radforsk Investment Foundation has granted five research projects a total amount of NOK 4,95 million to further develop exciting research projects within photodynamic treatment and photochemical internalization. Cancer researcher Pål Selbo receives NOK 3,75 million for his project.

Radforsk Investment Foundation is an evergreen investor focusing on companies that develop cancer treatment.

“Radforsk has invested NOK 205 million of its profit back into cancer research at Oslo University Hospital. Of these, NOK 32 million, have gone to research in PDT/PCI. This year, we grant five projects a total of NOK 4,95 million,” says Jónas Einarsson, CEO of Radforsk Investment Foundation.

Radforsk had received a total of six applications by the deadline of 15 January 2021. The applications have been assessed by external experts.

This year, one of the projects has been awarded a total of NOK 3,75 million over three years. It is a project led by researcher Pål Selbo at the Department of Cancer Research entitled “Novel Photobiological Strategies Counteracting Tumor Immune Escape”.

“This is exciting research aiming to apply PCI technology in the field of immunotherapy. Pål has extensive experience as a researcher in the field, so it’s fun that he went all the way to the top with this application,” says Einarsson.

 Pål Kristian Selbo Project leader, Senior scientist; PhD

Pål Kristian Selbo,
Project leader, Senior scientist; PhD at Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital. Photo: Oslo University Hospital.

“It is fantastic and very motivating to receive such great support from Radforsk. This means that I can finally realize this project,” says Pål Selbo.

The researchers who have received funding for PDT/PCI research in 2021 are:

  • Anette Weyergang
  • Beáta Grallert
  • Mouldy Sioud
  • Pål Selbo
  • Petras Juzenas

PDT/PCI:

Cancer research in the field of photodynamic therapy and photochemical internalisation studies the use of light in direct cancer treatment in combination with drugs, or to deliver drugs that can treat cancer to cells or organs.

Ketil Widerberg, daglig leder i Oslo Cancer Cluster, var med i høring digitalt i Finanskomiteen 22.3.2021. Video: Stortinget

Innspill til Perspektivmeldingen

Oslo Cancer Cluster har uttalt seg om Perspektivmeldingen 2021. Vårt hovedpoeng er at helsenæring må være en større del av regjeringens strategi for norsk økonomi.

Hvert fjerde år legger Finansdepartementet fram en Stortingsmelding om utfordringer i norsk økonomi de neste førti årene, og regjeringens strategier for dem. Denne kalles Perspektivmeldingen.

Oslo Cancer Cluster deltok i høringen av denne meldingen i Stortingets Finanskomité 22. mars 2021. Flere andre aktører innen kreft og helse deltok også i høringen, blant annet Kreftforeningen, Norway Health Tech, Legeforeningen og Pårørendealliansen.

Helsenæringens potensial for norsk økonomi var et gjennomgangstema.

Helsenæringens aspekter

Perspektivmeldingen poengterer hvor viktig det blir med offentlig-privat samarbeid og investeringer i helsenæring fremover. Videre nevner meldingen at ny teknologi i helse bidrar til økt ressursbruk og økt levealder med flere funksjonsdyktige leveår. Dermed fører ny teknologi også til et økt skattegrunnlag for finansiering av offentlige velferdsordninger.

– Det er gode elementer som er med. Samtidig er det flere aspekter ved helsenæring som Oslo Cancer Cluster savner, og som vi ønsker å trekke frem, sa Ketil Widerberg, daglig leder i Oslo Cancer Cluster, under høringen.

Se Ketil Widerbergs innspill på video:

 

Det første aspektet som Oslo Cancer Cluster savner i Perspektivmeldingen, er at både uventede og forventede hendelser i helse gir store kostnader.

Uventede hendelser, som Covid19, har store budsjettkonsekvenser. I tillegg til kostnadene med nedstengte samfunn, er det store kostnader forbundet med innkjøp av teknologi til sporing, testing, behandling og vaksinering.

Forventede hendelser er for eksempel antallet nordmenn som får kreft og antallet som overlever kreftsykdom. Før fylte 75 år har nå én av tre nordmenn fått minst en kreftdiagnose, og dette tallet øker, ifølge Kreftregisteret. Det er også flere og flere som overlever og må leve med følgene av kreftsykdom. En slik prognose vil påvirke Norges finanser, og ved å utvikle norsk helsenæring blir ikke Norge stående kun på kjøpersiden, men vil også få inntekter fra et av verdens største og økende markeder.

Det andre aspektet er de økonomiske mulighetene. Slik ressursbruken i helse kan bidra til et økt skattegrunnlag, vil også store kostnader i helse representere store økonomiske muligheter for norsk helsenæring.

Norge har så langt bidratt til milliardeventyr i helse med blant annet Ugelstadkuler fra Dynal, som er sentrale i Covid19-testing, og med kreftmedisin fra Algeta og Vaccibody. Sistnevnte utvider nå sin vaksineplattform fra kreft til neste generasjons Covid 19-vaksiner.

– Dersom vi i Norge tilrettelegger godt for innovasjon innen helse og konkret følger opp Stortingsmeldingen om Helsenæringen, vil den voksende utgiftssiden også bli en voksende inntektsstrøm. Det er gode perspektiver, sa Ketil Widerberg under høringen.

Det tredje aspektet er økt samarbeid mellom det offentlige og privat næringsliv gjennom modne helseklynger.

– De norske klyngene er en etablert arena for samhandling mellom offentlig og privat sektor. Vi er også pådrivere for internasjonalt samarbeid og kunnskapssamarbeid. I tillegg legger vi til rette for kommersialisering av samfunnsnyttige, forskningsbaserte innovasjoner, og vi jobber med å koble bedrifter som søker finansiering med investorer og prosjekter. Dermed er vi med på å sikre nye selskaper viktig tilgang til kapital. Dette gir bedre kanalisering av tilgjengelig kapital, og er nettopp det Kapitaltilgangsutvalget ønsker mer av, sa Widerberg.

Spørsmål fra politikere

Oslo Cancer Cluster fikk spørsmål fra stortingsrepresentantene Sigbjørn Gjelsvik (Senterpartiet) og Ola Elvestuen (Venstre) under høringen. Spørsmålene var:

  • Hvilken rolle mener dere at det offentlige skal ha i et offentlig-privat samarbeid i helse?
  • Kan dere si noe mer om samarbeidet med helseforetakene om næringsutvikling og teknologiutvikling?

I denne videoen svarer Ketil Widerberg på spørsmålene:

 

Flere vil sikre helseklyngene

Kreftforeningen talte for at alle nå må gjøre alvor av satsingen på helsenæringen, blant annet gjennom å sikre finansiering av helseklyngene.

– Det er på tide å gjøre alvor av satsingen på helsenæringen. Vi må lykkes med å styrke samarbeidet mellom det offentlige, det private, akademia og ideell sektor. Et viktig ledd i denne satsingen må være å sikre finansieringen av klyngene på helseområdet, sa Thomas Axelsen, leder for samfunnspolitisk seksjon i Kreftforeningen, og viste til klyngene som deltok i høringen.

Axelsen understreket også behovet for umiddelbar handling:

– Vi må investere i teknologi og innovasjon i dag mens vi har et handlingsrom for å gjøre det, og sørge for at vi får på plass gode avtaler mellom det offentlige, det private og ideell sektor, slik at vi står klare neste gang vi trenger det.

Se videoen av Kreftforeningens innspill her.

Les mer: 

 

Gert W. Munthe, Chairman, and Øystein Rekdal, CEO in Lytix Biopharma. Photo: Lytix Biopharma/ Håvar Haug

Lytix Biopharma and UiT with exclusive agreement

Lytix

Lytix Biopharma enters into an exclusive license agreement with the Arctic University of Norway (UiT) about drug candidates that combat cancer cells by stimulating the body’s own immune cells.

The Norwegian biotech company and Oslo Cancer Cluster member Lytix Biopharma has developed a new group of promising drug candidates together with a research team at the Arctic University of Norway (UiT). The drug candidates can combat cancer cells by stimulating the body’s own immune cells.

“Over the past year, we have achieved several key milestones with our most advanced drug candidate, LTX-315, and have successfully confirmed the unique potential of our technology platform. Through one of the joint projects with the scientific expertise at UiT, a set of new promising molecules have been discovered. This exclusive license agreement expands our overall product portfolio, which further demonstrates the robustness of our approach to this segment,” says CEO Øystein Rekdal at Lytix Biopharma in a press release from the company.

A broad collaboration

The drug candidates licensed have been developed in a collaboration between UiT and Lytix Biopharma, partly funded by the Norwegian Research Council and the Norwegian Cancer Society. A combined team from UiT, Norce, Oslo University Hospital and Institute Gustave Roussy in Paris have contributed to the project. Lytix Biopharma originally stems from the Arctic University in Tromsø.

This agreement grants Lytix Biopharma all rights to further develop and commercialize this new class of compounds.

Partnership with Aurelius Biotherapeutics

Lytix also forms a strategic partnership with the US-based specialist veterinary medicine company Aurelius Biotherapeutics to expedite the progression of the compounds that seem especially promising and suitable for the veterinary medicine market.

Aurelius Biotherapeutics now initiates further studies on this compound, to validate the initial data, and to refine its target product profile. Aurelius is currently also developing their own lead candidate, which now will be combined with the Lytix drug candidate.

Read more about the new partnerships in the press release from Lytix Biopharma. You can download it here.

Ketil Widerberg, general manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster, represented Norway in one of the panel sessions during Global Health Security Demo Day at SXSW2021.

Norwegian life science @ SXSW2021

We put global health security on the agenda at the influential technology conference SXSW.

Oslo Cancer Cluster and the other Norwegian health clusters Norway Health Tech and The Life Science Cluster participated in the conference South by South West (SXSW) for the first time ever last week.

The conference usually takes place in Austin (Texas), but due to current corona restrictions it was made available through an online platform.

The full-day event Global Security Demo Day, arranged by The Texas Global Health Security Innovation Consortium (TEXGHS), attracted many big names in health and life science from across the globe on Wednesday 17 March.

“It is clear that there is a silver lining of accelerated development, new innovations and increased public-private partnership in health emerging from the current Covid-crisis,” said Ketil Widerberg, general manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster.

The Norwegian life science environment was also represented at this event, by keynote speaker Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services, several representatives from private companies and the heads of the Norwegian health clusters Oslo Cancer Cluster, Norway Health Tech and The Life Science Cluster.

“It is great that Bent Høie, the Norwegian Minister of Health, supports innovative health companies at one of the world’s largest technology conferences in Texas,” said Ketil Widerberg.

View the panel sessions

Watch the video above for the panel session The race to a vaccine with Ketil Widerberg, general manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster and Trent Munro, Professor at Australian Institute for Bio-Engineering and Nanotechnology, moderated by Janet Walkow Executive Director and CTO, Drug Dynamics Institute, UT Austin.

The event was organised by TEXGHS, Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Texas at Austin, Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), Consulate General of Denmark in Houston, The Royal Norwegian Consulate General in Houston and European Network of Research and Innovation Centres and Hubs, USA (ENRICH).

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator staff runs the programme OCC Accelerator to help companies in cancer innovation succeed. Photo: Christopher Olssøn/Oslo Cancer Cluster

OCC Accelerator is here

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator relaunches the programme for start-ups in cancer innovation under the new name OCC Accelerator.

OCC Accelerator will identify, select, and develop promising innovations that will improve the lives of cancer patients. The aim is to make the projects attractive for private and public investments.

“This programme is for the best research projects and start-ups with innovative technology in cancer and a strong commercial potential.”

“This programme is for the best research projects and start-ups with innovative technology in cancer and a strong commercial potential. It is publicly funded with the overarching goal to build Norwegian health industry,” said Bjørn Klem, general manager, Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.

OCC Accelerator is a programme led by Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator and it is funded by Siva, a governmental enterprise facilitating a national infrastructure for innovation.

“2021 will be a challenging year because of the corona pandemic, but thanks to Siva we can offer up to 100% discounted services to the Accelerator companies,” said Bjørn Klem.

How does the programme work?

OCC Incubator regularly meet with researchers, founders, and entrepreneurs to discuss whether their ideas have commercial potential. After a comprehensive evaluation and approval from the board, the project or start-up may be admitted to the OCC Accelerator programme.

“We tailor our services according to each company’s needs.”

“We tailor our services according to each company’s needs. Some companies need help with a specific challenge, while others need support with everything during the start-up phase,” Bjørn Klem said.

The activities often include to establish the company, secure intellectual property rights, fund the company, set up development plans, and recruit management, advisors, consultants, and a board of directors.

Help with funding

For most companies the most important thing is to pursue equity investments and public funding. OCC Incubator helps the company navigate the complex landscape of funding grants, coach them before negotiations with potential investors and provide valuable contacts.

The global network through Oslo Cancer Cluster also gives the companies exposure through international partnering conferences, pitching events and official communication channels.

Moreover, the OCC Accelerator companies have access to the OCC Incubator’s state-of-the-art laboratories and offices in Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator offers state-of-the-art laboratories for researchers in the cancer field. Photo: Christopher Olssøn

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator offers state-of-the-art laboratories for researchers in the cancer field. Photo: Christopher Olssøn

“We can work intensely with companies for periods of time, but eventually they need to stand on their own feet. Our main goal is to make them attractive for investments,” Bjørn Klem said.

The companies may stay up to 4 years in the programme. Their progress is evaluated on a yearly basis to ensure they reach the necessary milestones.

One success story

Kongsberg Beam Technology is one of the companies currently in the OCC Accelerator programme. The company has benefited in several ways. Bjørn Klem has helped the founders write funding applications and arranged investor meetings. Thomas Andersson, Senior Advisor for Business Development in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, aided in recruiting the CEO Kerstin Jakobsson to the company and retains a seat on the board.

After the company’s first investor presentation in February 2021, the first issue of shares was oversubscribed in less than two days to the amount of 13MNOK. The company is also supported by the Norwegian Research Council with 23MNOK.

“We would not be where we are today without the support of Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.”

“Kongsberg Beam Technology is a medtech company in oncology. It is very important for us as a start-up company to be part of a life science community such as Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator and have access to their network and partner meetings. We would not be where we are today without the support of Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator. They have helped us with important funding contacts, to prepare the crucial investor meetings, which have secured our initial funding,” said Kerstin Jakobsson, CEO of Kongsberg Beam Technology.


If you are a researcher, founder or entrepreneur with an idea in cancer innovation with commercial potential, you are welcome to apply to OCC Accelerator. Please contact Bjørn Klem to find out more.


 

Cancer researchers Åslaug Helland, Simone Mester, Sigrid Skånland and Else Marit Inderberg talk about equality on International Women's Day.

Talking about cancer research and equality

International Women’s Day: three Norwegian researchers share their personal stories of being women in the cancer field.

Every year, International Women’s Day is marked on the 8th of March to put gender equality on the agenda. We wish to use this opportunity to celebrate women dedicated to developing new cancer treatments. It is important for us to highlight researchers that perform important research, who can also be role models.

We have reached out to cancer researchers across Norway, both in the public and the private sector. As a result, three accomplished Norwegian researchers share their personal perspectives. They are at different stages in their careers and focusing on different areas of research.

 


Åslaug Helland. Photo: Oslo University Hospital

Åslaug Helland. Photo: Oslo University Hospital

Combining family life and research

Åslaug Helland is a Group leader at the Institute for Cancer Research at the Norwegian Radium Hospital in Oslo and Senior Oncologist at the Department of Oncology at Oslo University Hospital. Helland’s research group focuses on translational studies on solid tumours, with a special interest in pancreatic cancers, lung cancers, ovary cancers and colorectal cancers.

“First of all, being involved in cancer research has been extremely rewarding. I started when still at med-school, in 1991, and since then we have learned a lot. Today we see that the insights gained some years ago benefit patients!

“When I started working in cancer research, there was a male dominance, which is not as obvious today. I started in Anne-Lise Børresen-Dale’s group at the Norwegian Radium Hospital. She was a world leading researcher in cancer molecular genetics and working with her was very inspiring.

“The regulations in Norway have made it possible for both men and women to combine family life and research.

“My family and I have lived abroad twice for research stays, first at Stanford University and thereafter at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia, and my experience is that Norway is one of the most advanced countries in gender balance and equal opportunities.”

 


 

Sigrid Skånland. Photo: Private.

Sigrid Skånland. Photo: Private.

Let me hold the door for you

Sigrid S. Skånland is a PhD, Project group leader, lab leader and researcher at the Institute for Cancer Research at Oslo University Hospital. Skånland has established her own research group, focusing on functional precision medicine in haematological cancers, in particular the B-cell malignancy chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

“When I talk about gender equality, I do it for my daughters. Their future. When they show bold confidence, I think ‘You go, girl!’

I want them to feel that they can claim their space, even as girls. I want them to see that it is possible to be smart, strong and successful, even as a single mom. I want them to be valued equally to men, also when they become women.

“As a biologist, most of my fellow students were female, and most of my colleagues during my graduate and post-graduate studies were women. As I have become more senior, my perspective has changed. Most students and trainees are still women. But. When I go to conferences, I see that most of the speakers are men. When I apply for research funding, I see that most of the grants are awarded to men. And when I establish new collaborations, I see that most of the higher positions are filled by men. I want everyone to see this.

“My daughter sat with me through a virtual conference. She pointed to the screen and said: ‘Are there only men?’ At the age of five, she already sees it.

“As a woman, I need women in leading positions to look up to. And I greatly appreciate the men who also see the value of acknowledging and promoting excellent female scientists. After 40 years, the first female members were elected to the international workshop on chronic lymphocytic leukaemia in 2019. This could not have happened without the support from the men on the board. Together, we can raise awareness on gender equality and make the gender gap smaller.

“I hope that I can inspire other women. Kamala Harris said it nicely: ‘It’s on those of us leading the way to leave the door more open than it was when we walked in.’”

 


 

Simone Mester. Photo: University of Oslo

Simone Mester. Photo: University of Oslo

Follow your dreams!

Simone Mester is a PhD student at The Laboratory of Adaptive Immunity and Homeostasis, which is part of both the Medical Faculty at the University of Oslo and Department for Immunology and Transfusion Medicine at Oslo University Hospital. Her research focus is on development of new biomedical technologies that may make cancer treatments more precise and effective. Her ambition is to start a biotechnology company in Norway.

Mester attended Ullern Upper Secondary School, which has an active collaboration with Oslo Cancer Cluster to inspire students to pursue careers in science and entrepreneurship. She was also the youngest researcher to be selected to SPARK, the University of Oslo’s two-year innovation programme. When she won the SPARK “pitch challenge”, she was awarded a six-month stay in ShareLab, where she now is exploring the commercial potential of her research results together with her colleague Torleif Tollefsrud Gjølberg, also a PhD student in the same laboratory.

“Early in my career, I have experienced great opportunities and lot of support. I strongly feel that the life science ecosystem is supporting me and would like to see me succeed. This is very motivating!

“For me, it is important to be part of a dynamic research environment that allows me to explore and develop as a researcher.

“I would like to encourage students and young researchers to be brave, ambitious and to follow their dreams!”

 


Else Marit Inderberg. Photo: Oslo University Hospital

Else Marit Inderberg. Photo: Oslo University Hospital

Calling for clear career paths

Else-Marit Inderberg is a Senior Researcher and Group leader at the Department of Cellular Therapy at Oslo University Hospital-The Norwegian Radium Hospital. The focus of her research is immunomonitoring in clinical studies and the development of cell therapies in cancer treatments. Inderberg’s research group uses the offices and facilities in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.

“My experience as a woman in cancer research in Norway is very good and my supervisors and mentors were always very supportive.

“I was always given opportunities to take on responsibility and to be independent and it was up to me to decide if I wanted or could grab them or not.

One of the key things to change to keep future generations motivated to do cancer research is to have clear career paths for researchers, both female and male.

 


 

Kerstin Jakobsson, CEO, Kongsberg Beam Technology.

Experienced CEO joins Kongsberg Beam Technology

Kerstin Jakobsson, CEO of Kongsberg Beam Technology

Kerstin Jakobsson has been appointed CEO to our member the Norwegian medtech company Kongsberg Beam Technology.

Kongsberg Beam Technology develops an advanced steering system able to deliver personalised proton therapy with better precision and less damage to healthy tissue. Proton therapy is an accepted and established cancer treatment and compared to traditional radiation therapy it focuses the energy on the tumour itself with less radiation to surrounding healthy tissue.

Kerstin Jakobsson has over thirty years of experience in the commercialisation of new technologies in the life science sector, with responsibility for international strategic and operational leadership. Jakobsson has been part of the management team of Medicon Village since the start and CEO for the last three years and has developed it into one of Scandinavia’s leading life science innovation parks.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator has worked closely with Kongsberg Beam Technology for several years to develop the company through its SIVA-sponsored programme. Bjørn Klem, general manager, and Thomas Andersson, senior advisor business development, have taken a hands-on approach, which is what attracted Jakobsson to the position as CEO.

“I am familiar with Oslo Cancer Cluster because the organisation covers areas of interest with Medicon Village. I have known Bjørn for many years through the NOME network and Thomas introduced Kongsberg Beam Technology to me,” Jakobsson explained.

Jakobsson has worked with many different start-ups and public listed companies throughout the years. For instance, Jakobsson was CEO for the two successful medtech companies Spectracure and Ortoma – both are now listed on the Swedish stock exchange.

“I am an entrepreneur at heart, and I feel at home in start-ups.”

“I am an entrepreneur at heart, and I feel at home in start-ups. I prefer a good mix of strategy and implementation, which is possible in smaller organisations. To build and develop a company is very rewarding. I am also familiar with the challenges in taking on this role. I benefit from my contacts in the extensive life science network that I have built over the years,” Jakobsson commented.

Focus on personalised healthcare

Kongsberg Beam Technology is a company focused on improving proton therapy in oncology. There are 20 million cancer cases every year and many cancer patients benefit from radiation therapy. The disadvantage is that radiation therapy has several side effects on healthy tissue. Proton therapy allows more control as to exactly where the energy from the particles is released, without damaging healthy tissue surrounding the tumour.

“With proton therapy, the dosage is delivered to a more specific target, the tumour. The dosage is considerably less in the surrounding healthy areas, which can make a noticeable difference for the occurrence of side effects,” said Jakobsson.

“Using artificial intelligence and digital twins, it will be possible to control the proton beam in real-time during treatment.”

Kongsberg Beam Technology develops a steering system called MAMA-K that will make proton therapy even more personalised and precise, and with MAMA-K the full potential of proton therapy can be achieved. Using artificial intelligence and digital twins, it will be possible to control the proton beam in real-time during treatment, even when the patients or their organs are inadvertently moving.

“Kongsberg Beam Technology is an interesting company, because the technology is highly advanced, and the management are extremely skilled and experienced. There is a solid market need, with a large potential for growth, and there is a long-term vision connected to the construction of two new proton therapy facilities in Norway,” Jakobsson explained.

The future for proton therapy

Proton therapy is emerging as a critical treatment method against cancer, which is why Norway are building two proton centres. The centres are planned to be completed in 2024 and are located at the Radium Hospital in Oslo and Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen. Kongsberg Beam Technology already has a collaboration agreement with the Radium Hospital, which is a part of Oslo University Hospital (a comprehensive cancer centre), to use the prospective facilities to test the MAMA-K system.

“The unique thing about Kongsberg Beam Technology is the strong collaboration between the Kongsberg industry, Oslo Cancer Cluster, Oslo University Hospital and the university.”

“The unique thing about Kongsberg Beam Technology is the strong collaboration between the Kongsberg industry, Oslo Cancer Cluster, Oslo University Hospital and the university. Spearhead knowledge from the Kongsberg industry is the basis for the technology. Oslo Cancer Cluster has provided a network in oncology which has made it possible to take the patented ideas further. We are essentially identifying the bottle necks in proton therapy to deliver solutions for the treatment centres,” said Jakobsson.

The plan for 2021 was to attract NOK 10 million in private placements. Less than two days after the first investor presentation, the emission was oversubscribed to NOK 13 million. Now, the company’s focus is to deliver a proof of concept within the next 12 months. The Norwegian Research Council is already supporting the company during this development phase with NOK 23 million.

Do you want to learn more?

Get in touch with Kerstin Jakobsson at kerstin.jakobsson@kongsbergbeamtech.com

Listen to Jakobsson’s guest appearance in the Radium podcast: Episode 161 by Radforsk Investeringsstiftelse (in Norwegian/Swedish only)

Read about Kongsberg Beam Technology in the following news articles: (in Norwegian only)

Previous articles on oslocancercluster.no about Kongsberg Beam Technology:

The students of entrepreneurship at Ullern Upper Secondary School listened to Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen, former CEO of Ultimovacs, give advice about fundraising. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Fundraising on the school curriculum

This article was first published in Norwegian on our School Collaboration website.

To set up a company, you need financing. In February, fundraising was a topic on the schedule for the students of entrepreneurship at Ullern Upper Secondary School. The lecturer was Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen who – as former CEO for Ultimovacs – has been through several fundraising rounds.

“Today, I will share my experiences with you and you can interrupt or ask questions as much as you like,” Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen began his lecture.

Kongstun Arnesen has 10 years of experience as CEO for Ultimovacs, a company that develops a universal cancer vaccine and has been through many rounds of raising funds.

Kongstun Arnesen shared his experiences with the students about what things companies need to organise before actively seeking financing.

“It is very important to have solid patents, which is the basis for any pharmaceutical or biotech company,” said Kongstun Arnesen.

He also stressed the importance of creating good investor presentations based on what kind of information the potential investors need.

Then, the former CEO explained the different stages of fundraising that the company had been through.

Kongstun Arnesen talks to the students of entrepreneurship at Ullern Upper Secondary School.

Kongstun Arnesen talks to the students of entrepreneurship at Ullern Upper Secondary School. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

From flying start to stock market

“In the beginning, we were lucky, because one of Norway’s wealthiest men, Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, invested in the company and was also involved in the management. The reason for this was that his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and he wished to contribute to something more than a donation to the Radium Hospital,” said Kongstun Arnesen.

Kongstun Arnesen continued to explain that having Gjelsten on the team was important for the next time the company needed to raise funds.

“Gjelsten contacted his network and we got large owners onboard, such as Canica led by Stein-Erik Hagen and others. It went surprisingly well,” said Kongstun Arnesen.

Then the company needed to go on the financial market to raise funds. The financial market consists of companies that are set up to earn money from investments. The only thing they have in common is that the companies are different and invest in differing ways.

“It is about collecting so called venture capital and going to ‘family offices’. In other words, family-owned businesses that invest funds in order to manage families’ fortunes in the best way,” said Kongstun Arnesen.

During the next round, Ultimovacs was set to raise NOK 130 million.

“That is when you need to reach the big and heavy players, for example different types of retirement funds, banks and other types of investment funds,” said Kongstun Arnesen.

Finally, was the biggest ask. The company wanted to raise NOK 450 million.

“To raise such a big sum, you need to be listed on the stock market. Everyone can invest on the stock market and it demands a lot of a company to get listed and raise money. We still managed it. At that milestone, we had the funds we needed to show that the vaccine worked. That is when it was time for me to step down as CEO,” said Kongstun Arnesen.

 

Solveig and Benjamin from the Dept. of Cell Therapy, Oslo University Hospital, were trained by Erik Brodin from Matriks AS to use the Seahorse instrument, which will help cancer researchers make new discoveries in the cell therapy field.

Unravelling the mysteries of cancer cells

A new instrument in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator will help researchers to learn how cells function so novel cancer treatments can be developed.

The instrument Seahorse was recently donated by Radiumhospitalets Legater to Oslo University Hospital’s Department for Cell Therapy and will be available for all researchers in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.

“The Department of Cell Therapy is in the international forefront in their field of research. Radiumhospitalets Legater is proud to support their endeavor with this important instrument,” says Jan Vincents Johannessen, Head of Radiumhospitalets Legater.

The instrument can make important measurements inside cells to understand the mechanisms of many diseases, including cancer. The data is collected from live cells in real-time, which will give researchers novel insights into cell metabolism.

“A Seahorse instrument measures the metabolism of cells, their respiration and energy production in real time and at high throughput,” said Dr. Else Marit Inderberg, senior scientist at the Department of Cell Therapy, Oslo University Hospital.

Metabolic reprogramming is emerging as a critical target in therapeutic intervention, for example in the development of new cancer treatments, which is why this instrument is so important for academics and companies in the cancer field.

“Metabolism plays a central part in the evolution of cancer cells and also in the efficacy of immune cells that infiltrates tumour cells. A tool that permits measuring the different metabolism modalities of both cancer cells and immune cells is an invaluable asset in the development of new therapeutic approaches,” Dr. Inderberg continued. “We will use the instrument to both assess the cancer cells as target cells and to optimize our immune cells used in therapy. This may help to provide clues about why some patients in clinical trials respond to different types of treatments and some do not.”

The instrument is placed in one of the laboratories in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, where both academic researchers and researchers from private companies can access it as they develop new cancer treatments. Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, by laboratory manager Janne Nestvold, made the physical space available and facilitated the procurement of the instrument, including user training.

“The Seahorse instrument will be a useful cell analysis tool in the laboratory instrument portfolio to support researchers in the development of next generation cancer therapies,” commented Nestvold.

The Seahorse is not the type of instrument you would find in just any laboratory.

“There are only around ten instruments of this kind in Norway,” said Erik Brodin from Matriks AS, a company that offers solutions, instruments and support to laboratories across Norway. “Each is worth approximately NOK 2 million.”

Brodin has given training and instructions to a couple of the researchers in the Incubator. These two researchers will pass on their knowledge to the rest of the team.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator are currently in the process of expanding the cell laboratories due to high demand for these kinds of facilities. Meeting rooms are now being converted into laboratories to meet the growing need from tenants.

LEGEN OG PASIENTEN: Fra venstre møteleder Siri Lill Mannes, kreftpasient Kjetil og lege Andreas Stensvold.

Evaluerer Nye metoder: – Tar arbeidet på største alvor

LEGEN OG PASIENTEN: Fra venstre møteleder Siri Lill Mannes, kreftpasient Kjetil og lege Andreas Stensvold.

– Evalueringen av Nye metoder er viktig for så mange, og det handler om liv og helse. Så vi går til dette arbeidet med stort alvor, sier Jens Plathe, prosjektleder i Proba samfunnsanalyse.

Jens Plahte, Proba Samfunnsanalyse

Jens Plahte, Proba Samfunnsanalyse

– Vi må velge ut noen enkeltsaker som dels kan belyse når systemet fungerer etter hensikten, og saker som kan belyse hvordan systemet fungerer når det settes under stress. Vi har fått mange innspill fra referansegruppen, og fortsetter å samle inn data frem til sommeren. Innen utgangen av oktober skal vi levere sluttrapporten, sa Plathe.

Han var invitert til å fortelle om prosjektet på årets første møte i møteserien Fremtidens kreftbehandling, der temaet var nettopp evalueringen av Nye metoder. Møteserien er i flere år blitt arrangert av Kreftforeningen, Oslo Cancer Cluster og LMI, i samarbeid med Janssen, MSD og AstraZeneca.

Her kan du se hele møtet

Kreftpasient Kjetil betalte gentesten selv

Evalueringen av systemet, som så mange er enige om at må forbedres, har vakt stor interesse, og det digitale møtet samlet rundt 370 deltakere rundt i hele landet. Vi fikk også høre historien til Kjetil, som har prostatakreft, og hvordan han sammen med legen sin, Andreas Stensvold, har funnet stadig nye måter å teste ut nye medisiner på – også delvis på tross av systemet – slik at han fortsatt er i live i dag. Historien hans sier noe om hvordan systemet, slik det er rigget i dag, har fått konsekvenser for pasientene og deres – til tider – kronglete vei til riktig behandling.

– Jeg har kjent Kjetil i mange år, og han har gjennomgått alt av standardbehandling, både cellegift og godkjente medisiner. Men disse virket veldig dårlig.  Det var tydelig at Kjetil ikke var en standardpasient, så vi måtte tenke på en annen måte, og gjøre flere undersøkelser – blant annet genanalyser. Men han disse måtte han betale for selv, forteller Stensvold.

Blant annet ville de finne ut om Kjetil hadde en genprofil som tilsa at han trengte en medisin som var beregnet på brystkreft, ikke prostatakreft. For Kjetil var det ikke vanskelig å ta valget om å betale for gentesten selv.

– Det var ikke noe annet alternativ enn å finne de pengene. Det begynte å se mørkt ut, så det var min eneste mulighet, sier han.

Da resultatene fra gentesten kom fra USA, satte Kjetil seg i bilen og kjørte hjem til legen sin for å levere resultatene.

– Vi endte med en off label-behandling, det vil si at Kjetil fikk en medisin som er godkjent i Norge, men til en annen kreftform. Og dette var ikke en avgjørelse jeg tok alene, den ble tatt etter en grundig juridisk og etisk vurdering. Det var også et kostnadsaspekt her, for hvis vi hadde sagt nei til off label-behandlingen måtte Kjetil ha betalt medisinen av egen lomme, sier Stensvold.

Behandlingen, som er en kombinasjonsbehandling med to immunterapier, startet de med i oktover 2020, og i løpet av få uker merket Kjetil at klumpene ved kragebeinet var borte. I desember var PSA-verdiene så lave at de ikke var målbare. Kreftlege Stensvold er rørt.

– Jeg har utsatt Kjetil for bivirkninger og nerveskader med de tidligere behandlingene. Men ingenting er likevel hyggeligere enn å se at nå har kreftsvulstene forsvunnet. Det er første gang siden 2014 at vi ikke ser noen metastaser hos ham, nesten alle kreftsvulster har forsvunnet. Det er veldig gøy, og man blir litt rørt selv, sier legen.

Men han etterlyser et bedre system, med mulighet for genanalyser og persontilpasset behandling. Noe er allerede på vei, men det er på overtid.

– Vi tilbyr behandlinger som ikke har effekt, fordi ny behandling er for dyr eller av andre grunner får nei i Nye metoder. Jeg syns danskene har et godt system der fagpersoner er dypt involvert, og der er det åpenhet og transparens om beslutningene, sier Stensvold.

Evalueringen skal besvare to hovedspørsmål

Prioriteringssystemet Nye metoder ble etablert i 2013, og har hatt noen «startproblemer» som etter 7 år ikke lenger kan kalles startproblemer. Myndighetene har derfor bestemt at systemet skal evalueres, og Helse og omsorgsdepartementet ga Proba evalueringsoppdraget. Proba har knyttet til seg Institutet för Hälso- och Sjukvårdsekonomi (IHE) i Lund i Sverige, samt flere uavhengige forskere: professor Kristin Bakke Lysdahl ved Universitetet i Sørøst-Norge, professor emeritus Ivar Sønbø Kristiansen og professor emeritus Aslak Syse. Professor Olav Helge ved Universitetet i Tromsø og førsteamanuensis Anne Kjersti Befring fra Universitetet i Oslo er eksterne kvalitetssikrere. I tillegg har Proba opprettet en rådgivende referansegruppe med 14 medlemmer som representerer pasientene, industrien, sykehusene, myndighetene og andre aktører.

Sluttrapporten Proba skal levere, skal besvare to hovedspørsmål.

Er dagens organisering og saksbehandlings¬proses¬ser i sys¬temet hensiktsmessig utformet og egnet til å oppnå de fastsatte målene?

Og er sys¬temet rustet til å møte fremtidens medisinsk-teknologiske utvikling, herunder utvikling av persontilpas¬set medisin?

Stor enighet om utfordringene

Hva er utfordringene med Nye metoder? Det er stor enighet om at tiden det tar, mangelen på åpenhet og hvordan usikre data i studier med presisjonsmedisin skal håndteres, er blant de viktigste. Også behovet for alternative prisløsninger går igjen i ønskene. Nederst i saken kan du se videoer der alle møtearrangørene fremhever de tre viktigste sakene de mener evalueringen av Nye metoder bør ta for seg.

Revolusjonen de siste årene, med immunterapier, målrettede behandlinger og genterapier, gjør at behandlingsmulighetene overstiger tilgjengelige ressurser, og særlig innen kreftbehandling. Flere av de nye kreftbehandlingene er så lovende at enkelte kreftformer går fra å være dødelige til å kunne leves godt med, og kanskje til og med bli kurert. Men hvordan skal helsetjenesten, som betalere, og legemiddelindustrien, som leverandører, bli enige om verdien av disse behandlingene når usikkerheten om effektene er så store? Hvordan kan de ulike aktørene bidra til at systemet blir mer rigget for fremtidens kreftbehandling?

Tid og nye dokumentasjonspakker

For Legemiddelverket, som gjør metodevurderingene som ligger til grunn for beslutningene i Nye metoder, gjør de nye avanserte terapiene hverdagen mer utfordrende. Enhetsleder Einar Andreassen sier at deres oppgave er å følge det som står i Prioriteringsmeldingen.

– Vi må vurdere hvilken nytte behandlingen har for pasienten, hvor alvorlig sykdommen er og hvor mye behandlingen koster eller hvor mye vi sparer. Dette vurdere vi hver for seg, og Beslutningsforum veier disse opp mot hverandre. Mest krevende nå er at vi får en dokumentasjonspakke fra firmaene, som viser effektdokumentasjonen, og den opplever vi blir mer sparsom med de nye teknologiene. Det kan det være fornuftige grunner til, andre ganger er det vanskelig å si hvorfor disse er vanskelige å vurdere for oss, sier han.

Færre pasienter i studiene kan være én grunn, men også etiske årsaker, sier han.

– Det vi også opplever er at disse studiene får midlertidig godkjenning i EMA. De godkjenner medisinene på bakgrunn av studier som er gjort på tidligere fase enn før, de fungerer godt i forhold til bivirkningene. Da vil den dokumentasjonen sendes videre til oss, som skal gjøre metodevurdering, og det er da utfordringene kommer. Ikke fordi kvaliteten er dårlig, men fordi den ikke sier like mye som vi er vant til fra før, sier Andreassen.

Han bekrefter at tid er en utfordring.

– Vi bruker de 180 dagene vi har på oss, og vel så det, og det jobber vi for å få ned. Men det handler om vår ressurskapasitet. Det handler også om tiden det tar for industrien å sende inn sin dokumentasjon.

Han sier at Legemiddelverket bør bli bedre til å velge ut hvilke saker de skal bruke tid på, slik at de kan behandle disse enklere og raskere. Her kan europeisk samarbeid, og nordisk samarbeid, gjøre at man kan dele på arbeidsbyrden og ikke gjøre unødvendig dobbeltarbeid.

Styrke testkapasiteten og finne nye betalingsløsninger

Jan Frich, viseadministrerende direktør i Helse Sør-Øst, mener en styrking av kapasiteten innen diagnostikk blir viktig fremover, med tanke på persontilpasset medisin. Han påpekte at det jobbes med å ruste opp dette i sykehusene nå. Han sier at det i mangelen på dokumentasjon i ny behandling blir en glidende grense mellom etablert behandling og utprøvende behandling, og viste i likhet med Karita Bekkemellem (i videoen) til IMPRESS-studien.

– Jeg hørte legemiddelindustrien nevne IMPRESS, som er en stor plattform for å prøve ut utprøvende behandling og samle dokumentasjon. Det er positivt å høre at industrien er med på dette, og vil bidra. Det har vi ønsket oss, at vi kan stå sammen for å bli bedre, sa Frich.

Også Frich mener industrien må levere dokumentasjon raskere.

– Jeg er enig i at vi skal prøve alt vi kan for å få saksbehandlingstiden ned, men noen ganger er det vårt system som er årsaken, men en god del ganger er det også industrien som ikke sender dokumentasjon. Så vi venter og venter på dokumentasjon, som kanskje ikke finnes. I noen av disse studiene er det kanskje 10-15 pasienter, sier Frich.

På spørsmål fra ordstyrer Siri Lill Mannes svarte han også på behovet for nye pris- og betalingsløsninger.

– Ja vi må lage forutsigbare finansieringsløsninger, slik at industrien blir mer på en løsning. Der må vi lage en ny modell for finansiering. Det blir en viktig nyskaping.

Politisk enighet

Tuva Moflag fra Arbeiderpartiet og Marianne Synnes fra Høyre var enige om det meste da de diskuterte temaene i en paneldebatt mot slutten av møtet. Blant annet er de helt enige om at de må se på det jurist Marianne Hammer tok opp, nemlig at pasienter i praksis har fått redusert sin rett til individuell vurdering fordi lovverket er så vanskelig å forstå.

– Vi må vurdere å endre lovteksten på det som går på pasientrettigheter. Dette er interessant for oss å se videre på, vi som tross alt er lovgivere, sa Moflag.

Hun mener evalueringen av Nye metoder og Beslutningsforum kommer sent, men godt.

– I fjor ble Beslutningsforum lovfesta. Vi ønsket at Beslutningsforum skulle evalueres før det ble lovfestet. De legger blant annet i for stor grad vekt på gruppetenkning. Hvis en kvinne på 30 år får en kreftform som vanligvis rammer menn over 75, blir den i systemet ikke funnet kostnadseffektiv. Og vi får stadig flere tilbakemeldinger om det med pris, at den delen vektes for tungt. Det gjelder ikke bare kreftpasienter. Innen MS er standardbehandlingen en gammel kreftmedisin. Det er helt fint hvis det fungerer, men problemet er at vi ikke vil betale for ny medisin til de som ikke har nytte av den gamle medisinen. Da har det gått for langt. Det handler om samspillet mellom pris og individuell vurdering, og det handler om at vi gjør prioriteringer ut fra hvordan dette påvirker sykehusbudsjettene. Hun som ikke får MS-behandlingen må nå få hjemmetjeneste og kan ikke lenger jobbe, sier Moflag, som mener dette bør tas med i det store regnestykket.

Marianne Synnes i Høyre er enig.

– Med evalueringen av Nye metoder kan vi se på nye ting som gjør at vi får til et bedre system likevel. Off label-behandling, at ikke alle vurderinger gjøres på gruppenivå,  og at vi skal implementere persontilpassa medisin. Det kommer til å bli krevende, men det må vi politikere også ta innover oss. Og så syns jeg det var et godt forslag fra Tuva om å se hele samfunnsregnskapet når man tar disse avgjørelsene.

Hege Edvardsen, seniorrådgiver i LMI, er fornøyd med møtet og alle innspillene som kom.

– Både vi i industrien og det offentlige må ta ansvar for å samarbeide bedre, og komme opp med gode løsninger som gjør at pasientene får raskere og bedre tilgang til de innovative medisinene som utvikles av industrien. En innovasjon som ikke tas i bruk er av liten verdi både for pasientene, samfunnet og for industrien, vi må derfor sammen finne løsninger som ivaretar både et bærekraftig helsevesen og næringsinteressene til en av de næringene Norge skal bygge sin fremtid på. Tilgang handler om mer enn bare pris, og industrien ønsker å være en samarbeidspartner både innen kliniske studier, pasienters tilgang til compassionate use og ved innføring av legemidler i standard pasientbehandling, sier Edvardsen.