Einar Martin Aandahl is the CEO and co-founder of Ledidi, a Norwegian company that has developed a cloud-based service to help clinicians collaborate on data across hospitals. Photo: Ledidi

Norwegian technology to help UK oncologists

British hospitals can now improve care of breast cancer patients by using a new health data platform from Norway.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s UK branch has announced grants to provide NHS hospitals with subscription access to a research and registry platform from the Norwegian company Ledidi. The platform will be used for clinical audit of breast cancer patients.

Ledidi, a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster, was formed by two academic surgeons, who saw the need for better tools for collecting, structuring, analyzing and visualizing health data.

Improving patient treatment

Knowledge about the effect of cancer treatments and diagnostics is often limited to what is known from clinical studies, but little is known about the effect once they are implemented in standard clinical practice.

“For cancer clinics, the possibilities of monitoring patient outcomes combined with other data from their patients daily, gives new possibilities of understanding the effect of their efforts and identifying areas in patient care and treatment that could be improved,” commented Einar Martin Aandahl, CEO and co-founder of Ledidi.

The problem is that data gathered from patients is often fragmented in different systems, unstructured and contains a lot of free text. To be able to monitor patients’ outcomes, the data needs to be structured in a way that makes them available for analysis.

Collaboration between clinics

The two clinicians teamed up with engineers and developed a cloud-based service to help clinicians and researchers collaborate on data across hospitals and faster reach novel discoveries.

“Ledidi Core allows the clinicians to create structured databases and forms for data capture, so that data can be collected in the same format from several collaborating colleagues or clinics. The solution is designed for multiple participants to collaborate on a shared database,” Aandahl explained.

According to Aandahl, the database can be shared between health personnel, but they cannot access each other’s data directly, and it is done in compliance with security and privacy regulations. Still, everyone can run analysis on the whole dataset and get instant results from the data. Aandahl also informs us the database can be used both for research studies and patient registries.

“By collaborating with other clinics, one also gets the possibility to compare practice from clinic to clinic and find a benchmark for how your own clinic is performing. By this, we aim to break down the barriers between research and clinical practice,” Aandahl added.

Towards data-driven healthcare

Almost every sector of society is becoming increasingly digitalized, but the health care sector has been lagging behind, both because of strict regulations on health data and the complexities in providing healthcare.

“By finding safe and easy ways to structure and collaborate on health data for secondary purposes, we can generate new knowledge and insights that can improve patient care and the health of many people. We believe health care needs to be more data driven and we work to lift the barriers standing in the way,” Aandahl said.

Ketil Widerberg, daglig leder i Oslo Cancer Cluster, kommenterer utvalgte temaer i statsbudsjettet 2023.

Statsbudsjettet 2023

Oslo Cancer Cluster

Her er de viktigste postene for Oslo Cancer Clusters medlemmer i statsbudsjett for 2023.

Forskning og utvikling

Regjeringen foreslår å bevilge 43,6 milliarder kroner til forskning og utvikling (FoU). Det tilsvarer en realnedgang på 1,1 prosent. Totalt 78,1 millioner kroner skal gå til arbeidet med å gjøre helsedata enklere og mer tilgjengelig for forskning. Formålet er å sikre mer og bedre helseforskning, som skal bidra til bedre helsetjenester, mer innovasjon og bedre utnyttelse av de norske registrene vi i dag har.

– Norge er, med personnummer, registre og et nasjonalt helsevesen, ett av få land i verden som har muligheten til å redusere tiden for klinisk utvikling signifikant, og gi bedre pasientbehandling. Med et begrenset budsjett i forhold til våre naboland, og kutt i Folkehelseinstituttet, vil økt samarbeid med private aktører bli stadig viktigere på dette feltet, sier Ketil Widerberg, daglig leder i Oslo Cancer Cluster.

Samunnsoppdrag og forskning

Regjeringen foreslår å bevilge 3,7 milliarder kroner til deltakelse i EUs rammeprogram for forskning og innovasjon, Horisont Europa, og til de forpliktelsene som henger igjen fra forrige rammeprogram, Horisont 2020.

Oslo Cancer Cluster mener at regjeringen bør se disse bevilgningene i sammenheng med en videre satsing på samfunnsoppdrag, missions, slik at den norske innsatsen bedre skal stemme overens med det vi kan hente tilbake fra EU. EU-kommisjonen har som kjent identifisert fem samfunnsutfordringer som de ønsker konkrete og ambisiøse løsninger på innen 2030.

Kreft er en av de fem utfordringene.

– Kreft er en av de virkelig vanskelige utfordringene i EU, der de største firmaene og de beste statlige instituttene ikke klarer å finne løsningen på egen hånd. EU putter 4 milliarder Euro inn i EU’s Beating Cancer Plan. De store europeiske landene posisjonerer seg ved å styrke organisasjoner og starte spissede initiativer, for å sikre relevans, sier Ketil Widerberg.

6. oktober, samme dag som regjeringen la fram forslaget til statsbudsjett, la de også ut den reviderte Langtidsplanen for forskning og høyere utdanning 2023-2032.

Planen tar opp samfunnsoppdrag som metode, og lanserer en nasjonal satsing på to samfunnsoppdrag: bærekraftig fôr, og å inkludere flere unge i utdanning, arbeids- og samfunnsliv.

– Det er bra at regjeringen støtter EUs samfunnsoppdrag i den nye langtidsplanen. Vi håper at de legger innsats på koordinering, mobilisering og oppbygging av sterke forsknings-, utviklings- og innovasjonsmiljøer, sier Widerberg.

Viktige kreftscreeninger

28,5 millioner kroner skal gå til å få hjemmetest som en del av livmorhalsprogrammet. Regjeringen foreslår også å bruke 10 millioner kroner for å gjøre leseprosessene i screeningprogrammene i mammografiprogrammet mer effektive ved å bruke kunstig intelligens. Til det nye, nasjonale screeningprogrammet for tarmkreft, foreslås en samlet bevilgning på 203 millioner kroner i 2023. Tilbudet gis til kvinner og menn det året de fyller 55 år, og skal gjøres landsdekkende innen 2024.

Oslo Cancer Cluster understreker at det er viktig å prioritere screening og hjemmetester, fordi dette er virkemidler som fungerer for å oppdage kreft i tidlige stadier, og forhindre alvorlige sykdomsforløp og død.

– Ny teknologi, som kunstig intelligens, vil på flere områder effektivisere screening, samt gi muligheter for utvikling av ny teknologi og innovasjon. Her vil samarbeid med internasjonale miljøer bli sentralt, sier Widerberg.

Mer til metodevurdering

Systemet for Nye metoder vurderer nye behandlingsmetoder for innføring i spesialisthelsetjenesten. Regjeringen skriver i sitt forslag til statsbudsjett at de vil sørge for at systemet for Nye metoder videreutvikles i takt med den medisinskteknologiske utviklingen, og foreslår derfor 28 millioner kroner til “styrking av metodevurderingskapasitet og veiledning i Folkehelseinstituttet og Legemiddelverket i 2023”.

Statens legemiddelverk får også 8 millioner kroner i økt bevilging til å styrke regulatorisk og vitenskapelig veiledning og saksbehandling ved kliniske studier.

De regionale helseforetakene får 104,7 millioner kroner i tilskudd til tiltak innenfor persontilpasset medisin. Tilskuddet skal benyttes til å finansiere sekvenseringsutstyr i helseforetakene, det nasjonale kompetansenettverket for persontilpasset medisin, infrastruktur for presisjonsdiagnostikk og etablering av nasjonalt genomsenter.

Styrker eiendom i Siva

Eiendomsvirksomheten i det statlige foretaket Siva foreslås styrket med 100 millioner kroner i 2023. 35 millioner blir tilført som risikokapital, mens de resterende 65 millionene blir tilført som egenkapital.

– Dette er viktig for kreftinnovasjon, fordi eiendomsvirksomheten til Siva har vært, og er, sentral for utviklingen av Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovasjonspark og innovasjonsmiljøet ved Radiumhospitalet, sier Widerberg.

Siva er en av eierne i Oslo Cancer Cluster innovasjonspark og inkubator. Innovasjonsparken planlegger å utvide, etter ønske fra forskningsmiljøer og industri. En utvidelse av parken vil innebære flere laboratorier, og mer nødvendig plass til bedrifter innen helsenæringen.

Grønn helsenæring

Regjeringen vil ha mer grønn nærings- og eksportomstilling, og foreslår derfor å omprioritere deler av midlene i det næringsrettede virkemiddelapparatet. Foreslåtte tiltak er blant annet ny utlysning under Grønn plattform med en ramme på 600 millioner kroner, å øke rammen for Innovasjon Norges Grønne vekstlån, å tilførse kapital til Siva, og å styrke Innovasjon Norges arbeid med strategiske eksportfremmesatsinger.

– Det er viktig for oss å understreke at helsenæringen er en grønn næring, der eksport trenger en strategisk satsing. Helsenæringen hører naturlig hjemme i en norsk satsing på grønn eksport, sier Widerberg.

 

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Nordic Life Science Days 2022

Olso Cancer Cluster joined NLSDays 2022 to strengthen Nordic ties in life science, healthcare and oncology.

Nordic Life Science Days 2022 were held on 28-29 September in Malmö, gathering the Nordic life science community for partnering opportunities, educational sessions and mingling in the exhibition area.

Advancing Norwegian life science

Since 2015, Oslo Cancer Cluster has coordinated the joint booth Norway for Life Science, promoting the Norwegian healthcare and life science industry. This year, the ten Norwegian life science partners came together once again in the exhibition area to make new contacts and reinforce bonds across borders.

The Norwegian booth included Oslo Cancer Cluster, UiO Life Science, Aleap, Norway Health Tech, Nansen Neuroscience Network, The Life Science Cluster, Innovation Norway, Legemiddelindustrien (LMI), Norwegian Research Council, the Centre for Digital Life and Inven2.

Vaccine insights

Oslo Cancer Cluster co-hosted one of the super sessions in the NLSDays programme, together with the Life Science Cluster. The topic was Vaccine Crosslinks: From cancer to COVID and included presentations from key experts in vaccine development from the Nordics. Mikael Engsig, CEO of Nykode Therapeutics, commented:

“Nykode Therapeutics was founded on the basis of our unique immunotherapy technology platform and its properties to up or downregulate specific immune responses. Today, we strive hard to put the platform to its full use across several therapeutics areas with unmet medical needs such as oncology, infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases.”

Immune links between cancer and infectious diseases were discussed by the panelists during super session 3. Photo: Dave Tippett / Oslo Cancer Cluster

The speakers included: Ms. Eleanor Malone (Editor in Chief, Citeline), Dr. Heinz Lubenau (Chief Drug Development Officer, NEC OncoImmunity), Mr. Michael Engsig (CEO, Nykode Therapeutics), Dr. Holger Kissel (Vice President Business Alliances, BioNTech), Dr. Carl Kilander (Partner, HealthCap), Mr. Mike Ryan (Executive Vice President Europe, Eversana) and Dr. Gunnveig Grødeland (Senior Scientist and Research Group Leader, University of Oslo).

Eversana and Citeline kindly sponsored this session.

Our members on the stage

OncoSyne and DoMore Diagnostics, two companies from the Accelerator programme in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, were selected as “Rising Stars” at this year’s NLSInvest. The two companies pitched to an audience of global investors, along with start-up companies from across the Nordics.

Peter W. Eide, CTO in Oncosyne, pitched at NLSInvest. Photo: Dave Tippett / Oslo Cancer Cluster

“We saw NLSDays as an excellent opportunity to meet new collaborators and promote the company. As such, the conference was very useful. We have a host of promising follow-up meetings, and being selected for pitching with other NLSDays Rising Stars was a nice recognition of our achievements and ambitious growth targets,” said Peter W. Eide, CTO in OncoSyne.

Torbjørn Furuseth, CEO and co-founder of DoMore Diagnostics, presented the company to the NLSDays audience. Photo: Dave Tippett / Oslo Cancer Cluster

“It is great to see that NLSDays has become such a large and important event, gathering so many early-stage companies, investors and others. We were happy for being selected as one of the Rising Stars and got the opportunity to pitch our company. This event is a great place to network and we had several good meetings,” said Torbjørn Furuseth, CEO and co-founder of DoMore Diagnostics.

Read more about the Rising Stars here.

In addition to our “Rising Stars”, several members of Oslo Cancer Cluster held company presentations during the NLSDays programme.

Gjest Breistein, CFO of Lytix Biopharma, presented the company’s vaccination technology platform for treatment of cancer. Kerstin Jakobsson, CEO of Kongsberg Beam Technology, presented the company’s proton radiation therapy devices for cancer treatment. Bjørn Klem, CEO of Adjutec Pharma, presented the company’s novel solutions against antibiotic resistance.

Sparking innovation

The NLSDays Fireside Chat with SPARK took a deep dive into how the SPARK programme has been set up at universities in the Nordics.

“There is a great untapped potential in research being done at the universities to be transformed into innovative solutions that create value for society. This isn’t unique for Oslo, or even for Norway, but also a challenge for universities across Europe. When Jutta Heix from Oslo Cancer Cluster introduced us to the SPARK concept, we saw it was a good match for UiO Life Science and decided to sponsor it. It has had great success at Stanford University and there have been over 60 programmes established globally,” said Morten Egeberg, Leader of SPARK Norway at the University of Oslo.

Morten Egeberg, Leader of SPARK Norway, moderated the SPARK Fireside Chat at NLSDays 2022. Photo: Dave Tippett / Oslo Cancer Cluster

The so-called “Sparkees”, academic innovators who have undergone the SPARK programme, had the opportunity to meet with investors at NLSDays. They were prepared beforehand about what to expect from these partnering meetings and how to build international networks.

“The focus at this year’s NLSDays was to build a closer collaboration between the SPARK programmes in the Nordics. The programmes in Norway and Finland are already well-established, and Denmark is currently setting up their programme. Our mentors all have relevant backgrounds and industry experience. The aim now is to share mentors across borders, so the ‘Sparkees’ can gain access to a wider network of expertise,” Egeberg added.

 

Thank you to everyone who took the time to visit our booth, schedule partnering meetings with us and join our sessions. The next Nordic Life Science Days will take place in Copenhagen on 29-30 September 2023. We look forward to seeing you there!

Photo: Dave Tippett / Oslo Cancer Cluster

Norwegian symposium highlights molecular testing

Attendants from across Norway, the Nordics and the world discussed how molecular tests can realise precision cancer medicine in the clinic, through a prostate cancer perspective.

The Norwegian Cancer Symposium was held on 14-15 September in Oslo and titled “Sustainable Cancer Care Using Molecular Tests – From a Prostate Cancer Perspective”. The two-day event brought together top-ranking researchers, clinicians, industry and policymakers.

“The intention of the symposium is to strengthen collaborations between clinicians, researchers, health authorities and representatives from the patient organization and the industry to bring biomarkers needed to realize precision medicine into the clinic,” said Kristin Austlid Taskén, Senior Scientist and Professor at the Institute of Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, and Chair of the Organizing Committee for the 8th Norwegian Cancer Symposium.

Exploring the research forefront

The programme included presentations from high-profile speakers that had travelled to Norway from different parts of the world, including USA, United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden.

Austlid Taskén commented on what she thought were the highlights from the talks:

“How do we identify patients who will benefit from PARPi treatment? What is needed to include use of biomarkers in the guidelines for treatment and into the clinic? What is the role of the tumour microenvironment in biomarker discovery and precision medicine? What are the bottle necks in implementation of precision medicine? How can we coordinate efforts to build and finance powerful cohorts for biomarker discovery and validation?”

Industry met academia

The audience included participants from across Norway and the Nordic countries, both from academic institutions and from pharmaceutical companies.

Marte Jonsson, Medical Advisor, Oncology in Bayer, was eager to learn about the latest findings in the field of prostate cancer and form new relationships:

“It is possible to get to know other people in the field, to form new relationships, strengthen existing ones or find new collaboration partners. Over a coffee or lunch, you may meet someone who is interested in starting a new investigator-initiated clinical trial for instance. To advance in the field, it is important for all stakeholders to communicate with each other, and national conferences are a great place for researchers, clinicians and the industry to engage with each other.”

Arton Baftiu, Medical Advisor, Solid Tumor at Janssen, was one of the industry representatives attending the Norwegian Cancer Symposium 2022. Photo: Janssen

Arton Baftiu, Medical Advisor, Solid Tumor at Janssen, was impressed by the research updates presented:

“My highlight from this symposium is the impressive work that is being done in the field of cancer – starting from the discovery of new biomarkers, new genetic tests and the cutting-edge clinical trials that are now being rolled out to Norwegian cancer patients. As a pharmacist, to witness the medical advancements in the era of personalized cancer treatment within prostate- and lung cancer, giving patients better survival outcomes and quality of life, brings additional responsibility but also a huge motivation to my role as a medical advisor in Janssen.”

Important insights for patients

Several interviewees mentioned the patient story during the panel discussion as their most memorable moment from the symposium.

“The panel discussion, particularly with the patient who presented his case, not only based on emotions, but on facts, really impressed me. Listening to all the parts in the discussion made me realize that we have to work even harder to ensure that the gap we observe time after time between drugs that are approved and the needed diagnostic test needs to be closed much faster than it is today. Access to testing should not be the limiting factor, when we know every day counts,” said Reza Shirzadi, Oncology Diagnostic Liaison at AstraZeneca.

The Norwegian Cancer Symposium 2022 was presented by the Institute of Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, with sponsorship from Norsk Hydro’s Fund for Cancer Research, University of Oslo: Life Science, and with support from Oslo Cancer Cluster.  A special acknowledgement to Oslo Cancer Cluster’s membership and project team, together with Innovation Norway Mature Clusters funding. 

For more information, please visit the Norwegian Cancer Symposium website.