Anette Weyergang viser PCI-teknologien til Erna Solberg. Foto: Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovasjonspark

Radforsk bevilger 4,5 millioner kroner til kreftforskning

Radforsk er en eviggrønn investor som investerer i selskaper som utvikler kreftbehandling. Siden oppstarten i 1986 har Radforsk kanalisert 200 millioner kroner av overskuddet tilbake til kreftforskning ved Oslo universitetssykehus. I år får fire forskere totalt 4,5 millioner kroner, hvorav Anette Weyergang får 3,75 millioner kroner over tre år.

Read this article in English below

«Jeg er kjempeglad for denne tildelingen. Vi forskere må selv finne finansiering til våre prosjekter. Det prosjektet jeg har søkt og fått tildelt midler til nå, hadde jeg ikke finansiering til», sier Anette Weyergang. Hun er prosjektgruppeleder og seniorforsker i gruppen til Kristian Berg.

Berg sin gruppe forsker innen fotodynamisk terapi (PDT) og fotokjemisk internalisering (PCI). Radforsk sitt porteføljeselskap PCI Biotech er spunnet ut av forskningen til denne gruppen.

Weyergang er den første forskeren noensinne som får en bevilgning på flere millioner kroner over flere år fra Radforsk.

«Vi har totalt gitt 200 millioner kroner til kreftforskning ved Oslo universitetssykehus, hvorav 25 millioner kroner er gitt til forskning innen PDT/PCI så langt. Tidligere har vi bevilget mindre beløp til flere forskere, men vi ønsker nå å spisse noe av bevilgningen til prosjekter vi har tro på», sier Jónas Einarsson, administrerende direktør i Radforsk.

Radforsk mottok åtte søknader totalt til søknadsfristen 15. februar, og søknadene er vurdert av eksterne fagfolk.

Ny bruk av PCI-teknologien

PCI-teknologien går ut på å levere legemidler og andre molekyler inn til kreftcellene, for så å frigjøre dem ved hjelp av lys. På denne måten sikrer man en målrettet behandling av kreft hos pasienter, med færre bivirkninger.

Weyergang skal bruke midlene fra Radforsk til å forske på hvorvidt PCI-teknologien kan brukes til å gjøre målrettet kreftbehandling enda mer målrettet.

«I prosjektet skal vi finne en metode for å levere antistoffer inn til kreftceller ved hjelp av PCI-teknologien. Dette har aldri blitt gjort før, og kan åpne helt nye dører for bruk avteknologien om vi lykkes», sier Weyergang.

Hun skal i første omgang konsentrere seg om glioblastom, den den mest alvorlige formen for hjernekreft, som er resistent mot både kjemoterapi og stråling, og har en veldig høy dødelighet.

«Dette er translasjonsforskning, så det er lenge til vi eventuelt kan prøve ut forskningen vår i mennesker. Nå skal vi bruke både cellelinjer fra glioblastom og forsøksdyr for å teste ut hypotesen vår. Det gjør vi for å etablere et såkalt «proof of concept» som er nødvendig for å gå videre i klinisk testing», sier Weyergang.

 

De andre forskerne som har fått støtte til sin forskning innen PDT/PCI i 2019 er:

  • Kristian Berg og Henry Hirschberg Beckman: 207.500 kroner
  • Qian Peng: 300.000 kroner
  • Mpuldy Sioud: 300.000 kroner

 

Fakta:

PDT/PCI:

Kreftforskning innen fotodynamisk terapi og fotokjemisk internalisering går ut på å bruke lys til å behandle kreft direkte sammen med andre legemidler, eller levere legemidler som kan behandle kreft inn i celler eller organer.

 

Radforsk:

  • Radforsk har siden stiftelsen i 1986 generert en fondsverdi på 600 millioner kroner  og kanalisert 200 millioner kroner til kreftforskning basert på et lån på 1 millioner kroner i egenkapital tilbake i 1986
  • 200 millioner kroner er i denne perioden kanalisert tilbake til forskerne som Radforsk har bidratt til å kommersialisere idéene til
  • 25 millioner kroner er gitt til forskning innen fotodynamisk terapi (PDT) og fotokjemisk internalisering (PCI) så langt. Totalt skal 40 MNOK bevilges denne forskningen

Radforsk to invest NOK 4.5 million in cancer research

Radforsk is an evergreen investor focusing on companies that develop cancer treatment. Since its start-up in 1986, Radforsk has ploughed NOK 200 million of its profit back into cancer research at Oslo University Hospital. This year, four researchers will be awarded a total of NOK 4.5 million. One of them is Anette Weyergang, who will receive NOK 3.75 million over a three-year period.

‘I’m so happy for this grant. As researchers, we have to find funding for our own projects. I didn’t have any funding for the project I have now applied and been granted funds for,’ says Anette Weyergang. She is a project group manager and senior researcher in Kristian Berg’s group.

Berg’s group conducts research in the field of photodynamic therapy (PDT) and photochemical internalisation (PCI). Radforsk’s portfolio company PCI Biotech is based on this group’s research.

Weyergang is the first researcher ever to be receive several million kroner over several years from Radforsk.

‘We have donated a total of NOK 200 million to cancer research at Oslo University Hospital, of which NOK 25 million have gone to research in PDT/PCI. We have previously awarded smaller amounts to several researchers, but we now want to use some of our funds to focus on projects we believe in,’ says CEO of Radforsk Jónas Einarsson.

Radforsk had received a total of eight applications by the deadline on 15 February, and the applications have been assessed by external experts.

New use of PCI technology

PCI is a technology for delivering drugs and other molecules into the cancer cells and then releasing them by means of light. This allows for targeted cancer treatment with fewer side effects for patients.

Weyergang will use the funds from Radforsk to research whether PCI technology can be used to make targeted cancer treatment even more targeted.

‘The project aims to find a method for delivering antibodies to cancer cells using PCI technology. This has never been done before, and if we succeed, it can open up brand possibilities for using this technology,’ says Weyergang.

Initially, she will focus on glioblastoma, which is the most serious form of brain cancer, is resistant to both chemotherapy and radiotherapy and has a very high mortality rate.

‘This is translational research, so human trials are still a long way off. We will now use both glioblastoma cell lines and experimental animals to test our hypothesis. We do this to establish what is called a “proof of concept”, which we need to move on to clinical testing,’ says Weyergang.

 

The other researchers who have received funding for PDT/PCI research in 2019 are:

  • Kristian Berg and Henry Hirschberg Beckman: NOK 207,500
  • Qian Peng: NOK 300,000
  • Mpuldy Sioud: NOK 300,000

 

Facts:

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.

 

Radforsk:

  • Since its formation in 1986, Radforsk has generated NOK 600 million in fund assets and channelled NOK 200 million to cancer research, based on a loan of NOK 1 million in equity back in 1986.
  • During this period, NOK 200 million have found its way back to the researchers whose ideas Radforsk has helped to commercialise.
  • NOK 25 million have gone to research in photodynamic therapy (PDT) and photochemical internalisation (PCI). In total, NOK 40 million will be awarded to this research.

RESOURCES TO PDT/PCI RELATED RESEARCH

Radforsk will distribute resources to photodynamic therapy and photochemical internalization (PDT/PCI) related research. In 2019 one project will be chosen to receive a larger project grant.

Employees at the Oslo University Hospital are welcome to apply. If you have received resources from previous PDT/PCI projects, you must provide a project report with your new application.

The closing date for applications is February 15th, 2019.

Guidelines for resources to PDT/PCI related research

Applications, containing a description of the project, can be sent to:

Radforsk, att. Bente Prestegård, Ullernchausséen 64, 0379 Oslo, Norway.

E-mail: bp@radforsk.no

Our portfolio company OncoImmunity receives €2.2 million

OncoImmunity receives €2.2 million to roll out its machine-learning platform to enable the development of personalized cancer immunotherapies.

The bioinformatics company OncoImmunity has been awarded the prestigious EU SME Instrument funding. The company’s flagship product, the ImmuneProfiler™, is a unique machine learning solution that has made inroads into solving the neoantigen prediction challenge. OncoImmunity enables their partners to solve the “needle in the haystack” challenge of identifying the right cocktail of neoantigens for each individual patient, and design a vaccine or cell therapy uniquely tailored to their specific tumor.

The machine learning company is based in both Oslo Norway and Cambridge Massachusetts in the USA, and this funding will advance further its capability to tailor the ImmuneProfiler™ for specific vaccine platforms, facilitating the design of safer and more efficacious personalised cancer vaccines.

“This project matches our ambition to position OncoImmunity as the leading supplier of neoantigen identification software in the personalized cancer vaccine market,” says Dr. Richard Stratford, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of OncoImmunity.

– The ImmuneProfiler™ is already a powerful antigen presentation prediction tool, with demonstrated utility in predicting antigens that are presented and visible to a patient’s T cells. With these funds OncoImmunity will further advance its generic platform to learn the precise constellation of potential neoantigens that are immunogenic in different vaccine delivery systems, says Dr. Trevor Clancy, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-founder of OncoImmunity.

About OncoImmunity:

OncoImmunity is a machine-learning company offering a proprietary technology to address the key knowledge gaps in the prediction of bone fide immunogenic neoantigens for personalized cancer immunotherapy. OncoImmunity’s software facilitates effective patient selection for cancer immunotherapy, and identifies optimal neoantigen targets for truly personalized cancer vaccines & cell therapies in a clinically actionable time-frame.

www.oncoimmunity.com

Source: OncoImmunity

Nordic Nanovector receives Promising Innovative Medicine Designation

Our portfolio company Nordic Nanovector receives Promising Innovative Medicine Designation in the UK for the Treatment of Follicular Lymphoma with their lead product Betalutin®.

Lisa Rojkjaer MD, Nordic Nanovector Chief Medical Officer, commented:

“We are delighted by the MHRA’s decision to award PIM designation to Betalutin®. This acknowledges the high unmet medical need of this patient population as well as the potential of Betalutin® to offer therapeutic benefits to FL patients. Both the PIM and Fast Track designations (granted by the FDA in June) are very encouraging, as they provide opportunities for enhanced dialogue with health authorities and the potential to bring Betalutin® to patients more quickly.”

PIM designation constitutes Step 1 of the UK Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS). EAMS aims to give patients in the UK early access to medicines that do not yet have a marketing authorisation but meet a medical need that is currently not being met. PIM designation means that a medicinal product is a promising candidate for the EAMS, for the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of life-threatening or seriously debilitating conditions with an unmet need.

Source: Nordic Nanovector

Om Vaccibody i NRK EKKO

NRK EKKO, NRK sitt aktuelle samfunnsmagasin på radio, har laget et eget innslag om den persontilpassede kreftvaksinen som vår porteføljebedrift Vaccibody utvikler.

Targovax: Reports full data set on clinical trial of cancer vaccine TG01

Our portfolio company Targovax reports encouraging disease-free survival (DFS) data from TG01 trial in resected pancreatic cancer:

  • 16.1 months median DFS with TG01 and gemcitabine combination for all 32 patients in the trial
  • 19.5 months DFS in 2nd cohort who received an optimized dosing regimen
  • 94% of patients had mutant RAS specific adaptive immune activation

The results are based on the full data set from the 32-patient phase I/II clinical trial evaluating TG01 in resected pancreatic cancer in combination with standard of care chemotherapy, gemcitabine.

Dr. Magnus Jäderberg, CMO of Targovax, said:

“We have previously reported strong immune activation and signal of efficacy for TG01 in resected pancreatic cancer. The median DFS data now presented further strengthens our confidence that TG01 provides a clinically meaningful benefit for this patient population, especially when in the context of historical controls. The DFS benefit appears to be more pronounced in the second cohort, which indicates that the post-chemo vaccination schedule is an optimal dosing regimen that we should select in subsequent development. It is also worth noting that median overall survival has not yet been reached in the second patient cohort, and we will continue to track how these patients perform with great interest”.

Vaccibody: First 10 patients enrolled and vaccination started

Our portfolio company Vaccibody has released an update on the clinical trial of their neoantigen cancer vaccine in phase I/II: 10 patients have been enrolled and vaccination has started.

Mads Axelsen, MD, Chief Medical Officer in Vaccibody, said in a press release:

We are very pleased with the enrollment in the neoantigen trial and with the interest we are experiencing from clinical investigator and from patients. To that end I would like to thank the experienced cancer experts and investigators in this trial namely Prof. Jürgen Krauss from Heidelberg, Prof. Angela Krackhardt from Munich and Prof. Elke Jäger from Frankfurt. Together with their dedicated teams they are doing an outstanding job with the neoantigen trial.”

 

Read more on Vaccibody´s home page.

Targovax: Encouraging interim results of ONCOS-102

Our portfolio company Targovax has released interim results from the phase I trial of ONCOS-102 in checkpoint inhibitor refractory melanoma.

Dr. Magnus Jäderberg, CMO of Targovax, said in a press release from the company:

“Given the limited number of patients who have completed the study to date, it is encouraging to already see a complete response to ONCOS-102 primed KEYTRUDA® treatment in this CPI refractory patient population. This case is particularly interesting, as the patient became refractory to KEYTRUDA® before entering our trial. At the same time, five patients progressed, which we believe may be partly due to an insufficient number of ONCOS-102 injections. Consequently, we have agreed with the investigators to expand the trial with additional patients, who will receive an increased number of ONCOS-102 injections. The complete response, combined with the optimized dosing regimen, makes us optimistic that we may demonstrate the full potential of ONCOS-102 in the checkpoint inhibitor refractory setting.”

Read more on the Targovax´web site.

Vaccibody in collaboration with prestige company Nektar Therapeutics

Our portolio company Vaccibody AS just entered a clinical collaboration with U.S. company Nektar Therapeutics.

The aim of the collaboration is to evaluate Vaccibody’s personalized cancer neoantigen vaccine, VB10.NEO, in combination with Nektar’s immune treatment NKTR-214, which is a CD-122-biased agonist.

In an interview with Norwegian financial paper “Finansavisen”, President and CSO  in Vaccibody, Agnete Brunsvik Fredriksen, states that the agreement means a lot to Vaccibody, since Nektar Therapeutics is among the hottest immunotherapy companies around.

Nektar Therapeutics is registered on Nasdaq and has a market cap of $10 billion. In February 2018 Nektar entered a collaborative deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb to furter develop NKTR-214 .

Jonathan Zalevsky, CSO of Nektar Therapeutics, said:

Vaccibody technology holds the potential of combining a personalized cancer vaccine approach which is designed to drive antigen presentation with NKTR-214, which can drive specific clonal T cell expansion to vaccine epitopes. We look forward to working with Vaccibody to seek the advancement of this unique combination into the clinic.

Positive preclinical  results

VB10.NEO is designed to specifically activate the patient’s immune system to tumour specific antigens, called neoantigens. NKTR-214 is designed to lead to further stimulation and proliferation of the immune cells. Preclinical results indicate a synergistic effect of VB10.NEO and NKTR-214 resulting in enhanced neoantigen-specific T cell responses. The clinical evaluation will take place in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. The first stage of the clinical trial will be a pilot study which will enroll 10 patients.

Nektar and Vaccibody each will maintain ownership of their own compounds in the clinical collaboration, and the two companies will jointly own clinical data that relate to the combination of VB10.NEO and NKTR-214. Under the terms of the agreement and following the completion of the pilot study, the two companies will evaluate next steps for development of the combination regimen.

Martin Bonde, CEO of Vaccibody, commented:

We are very pleased to be joining forces with Nektar Therapeutics in this new clinical research collaboration. The preclinical in-vivo studies of NKTR-214 in combination with Vaccibody’s neoantigen vaccines generated very promising results. We look forward to further evaluate the Vaccibody neoantigen vaccine in combination with NKTR-214 in the clinic. The combination is designed to improve clinical outcome in patients that need additional help to elicit a strong, neoantigen-focused immune response and thus such combination may broaden the patient population benefitting from either therapy alone.

Facts:

About VB10.NEO

VB10.16, is a Vaccibody proprietary therapeutic DNA vaccine which uses private neoantigens for the personalized treatment of cancer patients. A phase I/IIa neoantigen clinical trial is currently enrolling patients with locally advanced or metastatic melanoma, non-small cell lung carcinoma, clear renal cell carcinoma as well as urothelial or squamous cell carcinoma off head and neck.

About Vaccibody AS

Vaccibody is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel immunotherapies. The company is a leader in the rapidly developing field of individualized cancer neoantigen vaccines and is using the Vaccibody technology to generate best-in-class therapeutics to treat cancers with a high unmet medical need. A phase I/IIa neoantigen clinical trial is now enrolling patients with locally advanced or metastatic melanoma, non-small cell lung carcinoma, clear renal cell carcinoma as well as urothelial or squamous cell carcinoma off head and neck. Vaccibody’s front runner program (VB10.16) is a therapeutic DNA vaccine against HPV16 induced pre-malignancies and malignancies. The first-in-human study (phase I/IIa), which is now fully enrolled, evaluates the safety and immunogenicity of VB10.16 in women with high grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (HSIL; CIN 2/3).

www.vaccibody.com

Source: Vaccibody and Finansavisen