NOME Important to BioIndustry Growth

Nordic Mentor Network for Entrepreneurship (NOME) will be an important piece of the puzzle if Norway is going to fulfill their ambitions set by the coming White Paper on the Healthcare Industry.

If we are to make our bioindustry more competitive and take a leading European role within eHealth, we need to learn from the best in the business. NOME is a program that aims to lift Nordic life sciences to the very top by using mentors.

The Norwegian Parliament’s Health Committee has asked for a report on the Healthcare industry in Norway, a so called White Paper. The objective is to examine the challenges we face because of climate change, new technology, robotics and digitalization.

Innovation needs to meet industrial targets
Additionally, the committee has stressed the importance of a purposeful dedication to health innovation. There should be a focused investment In fields where we have special preconditions to succeed. A better facilitation of clinical studies and use of health data is especially emphasized. Nordic countries are in a unique position with vast registries of well documented health data, a good example being the Cancer Registry of Norway. With better implementing of new technology this type of health data will be increasingly important.

The committee also emphasized the need to shorten the distance between research and patient treatment through effective commercialization. And, in continuation, easier access to risk investment capital to help the industry grow.

–The path from research to actual treatments and medication is long and hard, and rightfully so – everything must be thoroughly tested. But you can imagine! Every second we can peel off the time it takes for new research to reach patients is extremely valuable and saves lives, explains Bjørn Klem, Managing Director, Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.

NOME a piece of the puzzle
However, how do we fulfill these ambitions? Klem believes the answer is combining forces within the other Nordic countries.

– We have different strengths. Think about how big Bioindustry and business is in Denmark. There is so much to learn form that!

NOME is a concrete way of collaborating. It is easy to say: “we are going to learn from each other”, but how do we in a concrete fashion set about doing this. NOME is a mentoring program that sets collaboration in motion.

— To put it plainly, NOME is a program for all Nordic Bio start-ups. They can apply and if their application is successful we send experts catered to help with the company’s very specific needs, explains Klem.

NOME is a meeting place between the start-up freshman and the experts that have thread this path before. They match Nordic entrepreneurs with handpicked international professionals to help each start-up with their specific needs.

— Think about it! There is so much a new start-up don’t know, lacking network and experience. How do you make it as a commercialized company in the health industry? NOME can provide both business and research mentoring transferring knowledge from past successes to new ones, says Klem.

A Twofold Benefit to Society
The desire is to propel the Nordic countries into one of the leading life science regions to commercialize high growth life science start-ups.

— With NOME society’s return is twofold. Firstly, we give patients access to new treatment faster by giving start-ups the necessary guidance and know-how. Secondly, we give our Bio Business a chance to grow with all the positives that has to economy and employment, Klem believes.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator coordinates the NOME-program in Norway and collaborates with the incubator Aleap to find the best match of mentors and entrepreneurs. To take part in the program you can click here for more information.

Precision Medicine has a New Target

Researchers at the Centre for Cancer Biomedicine, a Center of Excellence and a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster, have discovered an enzyme wreaking havoc inside cells that turns into tumors.

For our body to work as normal, cells need to know which way is up. When cells lose track of their orientation, they can start to grow out of control, and develop into cancer.

A team of researchers has identified an enzyme for cell orientation, offering a future target for precision medicine in cancer treatment.

– We have discovered how a traffic jam in the sorting inside cells can cause tumor development, says senior author Tor Erik Rusten at the Centre for Cancer Biomedicine at the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital.

LKB1 Activity Promotes Tumor Growth
And the villain is an enzyme called LKB1. Results suggests that LKB1 is shut off in normal cells, but that a traffic jam allows LKB1 to remain active longer.

– High activity of LKB1 contributes to tumor growth by sending confusing signals to the cell about which way is up, says Rusten.

The teams research showed that a high activity of LKB1 increased stress signals in the cells and disrupted cellular orientation.

Targeting LKB1 as Potential Therapy
Rusten and colleagues further tested the effect of genetically removing LKB1 from cells that otherwise would form tumors due to loss of orientation.

– To our surprise, reducing LKB1 activity restored normal epithelial organization and prevented tumor growth. These results suggest that pharmacological inhibition of LKB1 may be beneficial as treatment in some cancer types, says Rusten.

It will be important to determine if pharmacological agents can specifically target LKB1 in animals or in human cells in culture, and how such potential treatment may be transferred to the clinic.

– This is another example on how long-term financial commitments to basic research can lead to high-quality preclinical results. Hopefully, our findings will help provide better treatment for future cancer patients, concludes Rusten

Raising Prostate Cancer Awareness

This week on Monday, Prostate Cancer Day, the Norwegian Cancer Society initiated their Blue-Ribbon Campaign to raise prostate cancer awareness. In line with the campaign, Oslo Cancer Cluster gives you the chance to update yourselves on prostate cancer research Thursday the 30th of November.

 

The Blue-Ribbon campaign is initially a month’s focus on prostate cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancers we know. On average, every day three people die of prostate cancer in Norway alone. Over the length of a year, that number climbs above 5000 and they are all exclusively male.

For 20 years the Pink-Ribbon Campaign has been synonymous with awareness of breast cancer, a form of cancer that almost exclusively affect women. The movement was a success and brought a lot of attention and money for breast cancer research. Now, the attention turns to men and prostate cancer.

Research Needed
— I think we will receive a lot of attention with this campaign. The disease affects so many and is under communicated. Men often keep this type of information to themselves. And importantly, we need more research on the subject, says Anne Lyse Ryel, Secretary General at the Norwegian Cancer Society.

First and foremost, the campaign aims to lift prostate cancer into the limelight. Subsequently lifting taboos and increasing awareness among men and the population at large. Next in line is money for research. It is severely needed because reaching 2030, estimates predict an 40 percent increase on the frequency of prostate cancer.

An Update on Prostate Cancer
However, research is very much ongoing. And, if you are wondering what the most current research on prostate cancer entails? Visit Oslo Cancer Cluster’s R&D Network Meeting that Thursday the 30th of November focuses on exactly prostate cancer research. It can serve as a very informative conclusion to a month of prostate cancer awareness. Listen to prominent experts explaining current research and where prostate cancer research is heading in the future.

Read more about our Prostate Cancer meeting.

New Funds for Ultimovacs

Investors are recognizing the huge potential of Oslo Cancer Cluster member Ultimovacs. They are currently investing an additional 125 million NOK in the cancer research company.

 

Well known investors and Ultimovacs backers Stein Erik Hagen, Anders Wilhelmsen og Bjørn Rune Gjelsten are among financiers putting fresh money into the cancer research company, according to the Norwegian newspaper Finansavisen.

Preparing for the Stock Exchange
Kjetil Fjeldanger,  the Ultimovacs chairman, believes a stock exchange listing within 12-18 months is realistic. – We will start the preparations for a stock exchange listing to prepare for further financing, says Fjeldanger.

Ultimovacs has so far gathered a lot of funds. However, a lot of funding still remains because of the sheer cost of doing cancer research.

– Current funds will fund us until the start of phase two of clinical studies, explains General Manager of Ultimovacs, Øyvind Arnesen.

Fighting Cancer with the Body’s Own Tools
The company is developing a cancer vaccine that helps the body’s own immune system fight cancer. Currently, three concluded studies have been combined into one, and all participating patients will now be followed closely during a five year period to monitor their survival rate.

– The patients are doing well, but the documentation is not sufficient, but we continue in very good spirits, explains Arnesen.

However, a commercial vaccine will not be for sale until 2021, according to Arnesen.

Arnesen and Ultimovacs are also initiating a new study on melanoma cancer where the vaccine is used in combination with the most common immunotherapy remedies. The hope is that the two methods will strengthen each other and make an efficient cancer fighting remedy together. The study will conclude in 18 months.

Photocure with FDA Priority

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Photucure recently announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted a Priority Review for an expansion of Cysview.

 

The FDA has accepted a supplemental New Drug Application (NDA) for Cysview on a priority review basis. Photocure, the Oslo, Norway-based company that developed and is marketing the drug-device system, wants to expand the labeling to include use for hospital patients not staying overnight.

Basically, a Priority Review  means that the FDA will speed up their approval process and a decision is now expected in the first half of 2018.

How Cysview Detects Cancer
Cysview is a method of detecting bladder cancer using photodynamic technology and is the only FDA approved product for use with blue light cystoscopy, where a device called a cystoscope is used to detect cancer inside the bladder.

Cysview is injected into the bladder through a catheter. It accumulates differentially in malignant cells. When illuminated with blue light from the cystoscope, the cancerous lesions fluoresce red, highlighting the malignant areas.

An important Tool
— Photocure is dedicated to improving the lives of patients with bladder cancer and we are committed to working with the FDA to bring this important clinical tool to the US market as soon as possible.

— We look forward to hearing a decision from the FDA early next year on the US Cysview® label expansion to include patients undergoing surveillance cystoscopy using a flexible scope, said Kjetil Hestdal, President & CEO, Photocure ASA.

 

 

 

About Photocure:

Photocure, the world leader in photodynamic technology, is a Norwegian based specialty pharmaceutical company. They develop and commercialize highly selective and effective solutions in several disease areas such as bladder cancer, HPV and precancerous lesions of the cervix and acne.

Their aim is to improve patient care and quality of life by making solutions based on Photocure Technology™ accessible to patients worldwide.

Photocure was founded by the Norwegian Radium Hospital in 1997. Today, the company, headquartered in Oslo, Norway, has over 60 highly skilled employees and operates in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the United States.

Targovax Releases Positive Clinical Results

Targovax has received very positive results regarding the survival rate of patients with pancreatic cancer.

Immune-oncology aims to help the body’s own immune system fight cancer and the ambition is to address the unmet need for long-term survival for patients with advanced cancers.

13 of 13
The company specializes in immune-oncology and is a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster. It recently released information revealing that 13 of 13 test subjects where alive after one year of treatment in a stage two clinical trial study. In addition, an active immune response–meaning the immune system was triggered to attack the cancer–was observed in as much as 11 of 13 patients.

No allergic reactions
These results came after the number of test subjects were reduced from 19 to 13 to see if allergic reactions stalled with reduced dosages of the TG01; Targovax’s lead RAS immunotherapy product. And luckily, no serious allergic reactions were observed,

Magnus  Jäderberg MD, Chief Medical Officer of Targovax, said:

– We are delighted that we maintain a strong immune response and one-year survival rate with the reduced dosing  regimen, essentially  equivalent  to  and  consistent with the previously  reported data  from the  main cohort.

These new results are so positive that stock market analysts DnB Markeds predict a serious stock market rise for Targovax.

 

About Targovax

Arming the patient’s immune system to fight cancer

Targovax is a clinical stage company focused on developing and commercializing novel immuno-oncology therapies to target, primarily, treatment-resistant solid tumors. Immuno-oncology is currently one of the fastest growing therapeutic fields in medicine.

In July, 2016 the Company listed its shares on Oslo Axess.

Read more

 

Digital helse – hype eller håp?

En kortere versjon av denne kronikken sto på trykk i Aftenposten 13.10.2017. Du kan lese innlegget i Aftenposten her

Vi må forhindre at digital helse blir digitalt kvakksalveri.

 

Hva får vi hvis vi smelter sammen teknologi og biologi? Jo, digital helse. Her finner vi et kinderegg for pasienter, leger og forskere. Det inneholder unike muligheter til presis behandling for pasienter og leger, og kan gjøre at forskere ser nye mønstre og bedre forstår hvordan kroppen fungerer.

Digital helse innebærer at forskere og leger analyserer data i helseregistre, biobanker og gjør kliniske studier for å gi oss bedre behandling. Samtidig digitaliserer vi selv stadig mer av det vi ser og opplever. Det gir oss mulighet til å spore, styre og forbedre helsen og leve mer produktive liv.

En fremtidsdrøm?
På samme måte som flygende biler siden 70-tallet alltid har ligget noen tiår frem i tid, har vi de siste tjue årene hørt om den fantastiske fremtiden med digital helse. Vi har hørt om leger som får råd fra datamaskiner, et helsesystem som lærer av feil og forbedrer rutiner, forskere med banebrytende teknologi og pasienter som selv oppdager tidlige symptomer.

Det er ikke tilfellet i dag. På legekontorer og sykehus sitter leger foran datamaskinen og skriver inn samme tekst i forskjellige systemer for lagring – ikke for analyse. Vi har et helsevesen som ofte gjentar feil fra året før, og forskere som først etter flere år får tilgang til data å analysere.

Vi snakket om digitale beslutningsstøttesystemer allerede for 15 år siden – så hvorfor forblir digital helse en fremtidsvisjon?

Innsatsen mangler ikke. Teknologifirmaer investerer mer i helse enn noen gang før. GV (tidligere Google Venture) har nå hoveddelen av sine investeringer i helserelaterte prosjekter. Legemiddelselskaper fokuserer på digital omstilling. Stater har store programmer, som for eksempel Finland og Storbritannias satsing på sekvensering og presisjonsmedisin. Samtidig deler privatpersoner data som aldri før. Vi gjør det på Facebook, til Google og til selskaper som 23andMe. Med genetiske data fra over 1,2 millioner mennesker har 23andMe nå mer genetisk informasjon enn noen annen aktør i verden.

Digitalt kvakksalveri
Så hvorfor har vi ikke kommet lenger med digital helse? En del av svaret er at selv de digitale produktene som kan være nyttige, ofte mangler en måte å berike forholdet mellom legen og pasienten på. Ofte skaper slike produkter flere lag med programvare og krever nye prosedyrer. Dette øker kompleksiteten, i stedet for å frigjøre tid til pasienter. En unøyaktig sensor-app gjør det vanskeligere å finne ut hva som feiler en pasient.

Ingen ønsker at mulighetene og de positive produktene blir gjemt mellom såkalte digitale fremskritt som ikke fungerer eller faktisk hindrer omsorg, forvirrer pasienter og sløser bort tiden vår. Slike digitale tilbakeskritt kan være ineffektive elektroniske helsejournaler og en eksplosjon av digitale helseprodukter direkte til forbrukerne, med apper av blandet kvalitet. Vi må forhindre at digital helse blir digitalt kvakksalveri.

Hvordan kan vi i stedet berike forholdet mellom lege og pasient? Ved å bringe pasienten og legen inn i innovasjonssystemet. Der kan vi koble lovende oppstartselskaper med ledende globale firmaer og miljøer slik at de kan samarbeide om bedre løsninger for pasienten. Vi må se akademiske fag på tvers, og bringe ulike industrier sammen – ja, rett og slett skape nye økosystem for forskning og utvikling. Oslo Cancer Cluster er et eksempel på et slikt økosystem der pasientforeninger, sykehus, kreftforskere og firmaer finner bedre og raskere løsninger for kreftpasienter. Samarbeid bygger tillit som gjør at privat og offentlig drar i samme retning.

Samarbeid fra hype til håp
For å realisere håpet om digital helse, må holdninger og praksis endres på tre fronter. Det offentlige helse-Norge må gjøre helsedata mer tilgjengelig og bruke privat kompetanse. Private firmaer må på sin side prioritere nøyaktighet og sikkerhet og tilpasse sin teknologi til helsedata, og ikke omvendt. Samtidig må individer akseptere at helsedata deles for å få bedre folkehelse.

  1. Det offentlige må gjøre helsedata mer tilgjengelig.
    Ideelt burde leger hele tiden se etter mønstre hvor behandlingen fungerer og ikke fungerer, slik at offentlig helsevesen blir som en kontinuerlig klinisk studie på god helse. Ett steg på veien er å bruke offentlige helsedata for raskere testing og godkjenning av nye medisiner. Det vil hjelpe pasienter, skape arbeidsplasser og gi oss en solid plass i det internasjonale helsemarkedet. Det er helseministeren som må initiere dette, og han kan begynne med å følge opp helsedatautvalgets anbefalinger.
  2. Private firmaer må tilpasse teknologi til helsedata, ikke omvendt.
    Kunstig intelligens revolusjonerer bransje etter bransje. Teknologibransjen har for eksempel revolusjonert betaling og leveringssystemer for å gjøre 2000-tallets fiaskoer innen e-handel til dagens suksesshistorier. På samme måte må teknologifirmaene revolusjonere nøyaktighet og sikkerhet for å lykkes med kunstig intelligens i helse. De må forstå medisinske detaljer. Ved å samle teknologifirma, lege og pasient i ett økosystem kan vi få til dette.
  3. Vi må akseptere at våre helsedata blir delt.
    En ny virkelighet er at vi blir deltakere i forskningen på vår egen helse. Noen blir bekymret av dette. Kan forsikringsselskaper bruke det mot meg? De fleste av oss gir allerede fra oss data både når vi er friske og når vi er bekymret. Vi bruker betalingskort og fordelskort på apoteket og matbutikken. Hva og hvordan vi handler sier svært mye om vår helse. Data som pasienter selv lagrer i apper, fokusgrupper og genetiske analyser blir viktig for å komplimentere offentlige data.

De største gjennombruddene fremover ligger i grenseland mellom biologi og teknologi. Her må vi satse og tørre å samarbeide på nye områder. La oss bygge Norge som et ledende senter innen digital helse internasjonalt. Offentlig administrasjon, privat næringsliv og vi som individer må samarbeide for å unngå hype og digitalt kvakksalveri – og sammen skape reelt håp for bedre helse.

Ketil Widerberg, daglig leder i Oslo Cancer Cluster 

Curida’s Spreading Roots

Curida has come a long way from defending their place at the Norwegian factory to setting their sights internationally. What is Curida and their goal all about?

 

Creating value within ones own country while steadily spreading roots globally is no easy feat, but the young Norwegian pharmaceutical company Curida is blooming.


Overcoming the threat at Elverum

The company’s history is a classic tragedy intertwined with devotion and a feel-good ending. In 2013, change of ownership and new strategic priorities threatened to strip 190 employees from their jobs at the manufacturing site in Elverum, Norway. New owners Takeda announced that the site in Elverum was to be shut down, after providing pharmaceutical manufacturing since 1974.

What followed was a feat of patience and outstanding motivation. Employees and management joined forces to establish a new company, form a new business model, and get going. In July 2015, Curida was established and operation carried on.


Going abroad 

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Curida is now a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization, offering expertise in manufacturing and development of liquid pharmaceuticals.

The Curida customer base ranged from early-phase biotech companies to large, multinational pharma companies. Further growth in the international market is a top priority for the company. Curida is specialized on liquid products, using for example the advanced blow-fill-seal technology.

 

Unstoppable Ambition
Naturally, Curida has ambitious goals for home as well.

– In Norway we work closely with other start-up companies and make sure to help them thrive in production and innovation. Regardless of our vision to be a top-competitor internationally, locally, in Norway, we strive to become a national centre for industrialisation of medical innovation, says CEO Leif Rune Skymoen.

After overcoming the potential reality of shutting down, Curida now bursts through with unstoppable energy and ambition.

Missed Us at Oslo Innovation Week?

Luckily, all our events at Oslo Innovation Week and Forskningsdagene are available for a rerun. Have a look!

We had great audiences during our three events on the 27th and 28th of September. If your were not among them, sitting in the brand new science centre of the Norwegian Cancer Society, do not despair. The events were all live streamed on Facebook. You still have a chance to experience them right here.

The events were co-hosted with our partners the Norwegian Cancer Society, the Norwegian Radium Hospital Research Foundation (Radforsk), IBM, Cancer Research UK, Norway Health Tech and EAT.

 

The first event of the week was titled “Antibiotic resistance and cancer – current status, and how to prevent a potential apocalyptic scenario”.

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Antibiotic resistance and cancer – Current status, and how to prevent a potential apocalyptic scenario #OIW2017

Posted by Kreftforeningen on Tuesday, September 26, 2017

 

Our secondary event had the title “Cancer research and innovation – benefit for patients”.

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Cancer research and innovation – benefit for patients #OIW2017

Posted by Kreftforeningen on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

 

The third and final event on our Oslo Innovation Week calendar was about how big data may transform the development of cancer treatments. 

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How Big Data may transform the development of cancer treatments #OIW2017

Posted by Kreftforeningen on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Young Skills at Thermo Fischer

The innovation company of the year wants to encourage young talents. 

 

Six students from Ullern Upper Secondary School spent their school day at Thermo Fisher Scientific just days after the company won the prestigious award as the innovation company of the year in Norway.

As part of the school collaboration between Ullern Upper Secondary School and Oslo Cancer Cluster, Thermo Fisher Scientific opens their labs for science students at work deployment.

 

Curious about the school collaboration? Check out our new webpage!

The Dynabeads
The students got a unique insight into how one of Norway’s largest biotechnology companies advances their products, based on the so-called Ugelstad-beads or Dynabeads, developed by Professor John Ugelstad in the late 1970s.

Today, Dynabeads are further industrialized for use in specialized diagnostic tests and cancer treatments worldwide. Annually, the beads are used in an estimated number of four billion diagnostic analyses.

Scientist Synne Larsen and three students are in the company laboratory in Lillestrøm, a ten minute train ride from the capital, where Thermo Fisher Scientific quality checks its products in Norway.

Impressed students 
– I find it incredibly useful to see how our learning at school is being used in the workplace, says student Emma E. J. Botten.

Together with two co-students she was able to see the research and production done in the company’s facilities in Lillestrøm. In parallel, three of the girls’ fellow students were in Oslo and tried out life as crime scene investigators, using Dynabeads as a tool for finding DNA, in the company’s facilities in Montebello.

– It’s impressive to see how much work lies behind their products and how dedicated those who work here are, says student Nora B. Grone.

Diverse employment strategy
The students are in their third year at Ullern Upper Secondary School, with science as their speciality. They all want a career in medicine, global health, mathematics, physics or engineering. A tour of the lab and a visit to the factory were therefore among the highlights of the day.

– It was a bit overwhelming to see Ugelstad’s equation, which is the recipe for the beads, says student Thilde E. Kjorstad.

– Yes, but keep in mind that everyone cannot be as brilliant as Ugelstad. Everybody we employ is equally important and we must have people with different backgrounds and experience, says Erlend Ragnhildstveit, Research Director of Thermo Fisher Scientific in Norway.

Useful cooperation
Thermo Fisher Scientific is a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster. Part of the staff is situated in Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, where Ullern Upper Secondary School is located as well.

– The collaboration with Ullern is useful and important to us as a company. This makes it easier to host deployments. In order to develop our business further, as well as the health industry in Norway, we need people with a science background, says Erlend Ragnhildstveit.