Number of applications for clinical trials in Norway 2013-2023. Source: The Directorate for Clinical Products.

Advancing Cancer Research in Norway: Eli Lilly’s SUNRAY-01 Study

Eli Lilly selected Norway as the site for its groundbreaking study project, SUNRAY-01, despite the recent year’s decline in applications for clinical cancer trials.

This study examines the efficacy of the drug candidate LY3537982 on advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with a specific genetic alteration. and represents a significant advancement in health research and treatment for patients with KRAS G12C mutations, potentially reshaping the treatment landscape for this specific patient group.

The KRAS G12C mutation is a specific alteration in the KRAS gene, often associated with certain cancers such as non-small cell lung cancer. This mutation plays a significant role in promoting the growth and spread of cancer cells. Researchers are exploring methods to block or inhibit the effects of this mutation.

Decline in trails

Recently, Norway has experienced a notable decline in the number of applications for cancer clinical trials, dropping from 158 in 2022 to 98 in 2023. Lars Petter Strand, Senior Medical Director for the Nordics at Eli Lilly, voiced concern, noting,

Lars Petter Strand. Photo Eli Lilly

“We observe that the number of cancer clinical trials in Norway has significantly decreased.” He highlighted the global trend of increasing clinical trials in countries like the USA and China, contrasting with the reductions in most European countries.

Norway’s participation in Eli Lilly’s SUNRAY-01 study indicates a positive shift. Lars Petter Strand attributed the decision to several favourable trends in Norway’s healthcare system, including initiatives like CONNECT, IMPRESS, InPRED, and NorTrials, which have enhanced infrastructure and processes, making Norway an appealing destination for clinical trials.

Positive outlook for patients

Bjørn Henning Grønberg, Head of Department for Translational Cancer Research at St. Olav Hospital, one of the 7 hospitals selected for this study, emphasized the importance of such studies, stating, “It is always welcome to offer study participation to our patients.” The proportion of lung cancer patients with KRAS mutations eligible for targeted treatment through this study exceeds those eligible for other targeted treatments.

One of the most exciting and significant aspects of this study is its focus on finding targeted treatments for KRAS mutations, which currently aren’t as effective as other options available.

Patients with this mutation respond to immunotherapy, unlike those with EGFR and ALK positives, making it an interesting combination to explore. However, in the past, this has been challenging, as the combination of KRAS inhibitors with immunotherapy was too toxic, says Grønberg.

Challenges and opportunities

Despite these positive developments, Norway encounters challenges in maintaining its attractiveness for clinical trials. Strand emphasized the importance of addressing barriers such as delayed introduction of new treatments, lengthy approval processes, and capacity constraints in diagnostic tools at hospitals.

The roadmap for the health sector, a strategic document guiding sector development, underscores the significance of clinical trials in health research. While the government has set ambitious goals for increasing clinical trials, collaboration across sectors and collective efforts are essential to address challenges hindering this vital part of medical research.

A roadmap for the health industry

Oslo Cancer Cluster General Manager Ketil Widerberg emphasizes that this new study aligns well with the Norwegian government’s aspirations for a national health industry and ongoing efforts at Oslo Cancer Cluster to foster innovation and collaboration within the cancer research field. It represents a crucial step towards advancing cancer care and supporting Norway’s health industry growth.

Widerberg stresses the importance of patients accessing the latest treatment, doctors and researchers gaining insights into the latest technology, and the development of the Norwegian health industry, as Norwegian centres of expertise gain international visibility.

Crucial collaborations

To attract more clinical trials to Norway, stakeholders must collaborate effectively, as Lars Petter Strand highlights. It requires creating sufficient resources in hospitals, facilitating efficient communication between the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare institutions, and streamlining startup processes. Improved communication between the pharmaceutical industry and hospitals is essential, as demonstrated by Eli Lilly’s collaboration with NorTrials during site recruitment for this study.

Collaboration between industry players, research institutions, and government bodies is crucial for advancing cancer research. Initiatives like NorTrials facilitate this collaboration, ensuring nationwide access to cutting-edge treatments, says Strand

The post Advancing Cancer Research in Norway: Eli Lilly’s SUNRAY-01 Study first appeared on Oslo Cancer Cluster.

The agreement was signed 19 Desember 2023. From the top left: Guro Bjøntegaard, Managing Director of AstraZeneca Norway, Per Morten Sandset, Professor/Vice-Rector at University of Oslo, Leif Rune Skymoen, CEO of LMI, Idar Kreutzer CEO of NHO, Magnus R. Björsne, CEO BioVentureHub, Christine Wergeland Sørbye, CEO of Oslo Science City, and Ketil Widerberg, General manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster. Photo: LMI

Unique collaboration to build Nordic health industry

A new collaboration agreement between AstraZeneca, Oslo Cancer Cluster, and Oslo Science City aims to strengthen the Nordic health industry by facilitating closer collaboration between researchers, startups, and pharmaceutical companies.

This is a translation of an article in Norwegian, written jointly by Oslo Science City and Oslo Cancer Cluster. The Norwegian version can be read on Oslo Science City’s webpage

The focus on investment in the health industry in Norway gained momentum after Minister of Trade and Industry, Jan Christian Vestre announced at the Norway Life Science conference in February 2023 that the government would develop a roadmap for the health industry.

In June, the health industry was selected as the fourth national export promotion initiative under the export reform “All of Norway Exports.” Two months later, Vestre and Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol presented the roadmap, outlining 41 measures and 12 focus areas aimed at the sector developing drugs, medical devices, and digital tools.

Ahead of this year’s Norway Life Science conference, the Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, Oslo Cancer Cluster, and the innovation district Oslo Science City are following up with a collaboration agreement to strengthen contacts and cooperation between Norwegian and Swedish research and innovation environments. The agreement will facilitate Norwegian startups’ access to residency at AstraZeneca’s innovation hub, BioVentureHub, in Gothenburg. Simultaneously, Swedish companies will have the opportunity to reside at Oslo Cancer Cluster and collaborate closely with their environments in cancer and precision medicine, as well as the outstanding research groups from the Radium Hospital, part of Oslo University Hospital, and the University of Oslo, which are gathered in Oslo Science City.

“It is important for AstraZeneca to contribute to the success of new startups and to strengthen the entire Nordic health industry. Therefore, we are very happy to participate in this collaboration, which will benefit all parties and build the Nordic region`s position internationally as a leading region in health and life sciences.” Guro Bjøntegaard, Managing Director of AstraZeneca Norway.


Industrial expertise and international connections

BioVentureHub was established in 2014 as an open and internationally oriented innovation ecosystem based on a public-private partnership model. Here, promising startups and research groups in Life Sciences can access office and laboratory space close to AstraZeneca’s strong professional communities and advanced research infrastructure.

Overview of building blocks at night

AstraZeneca BioVentureHub is a not-for-profit innovation hub offering an inside track to AstraZeneca’s scientific expertise and facilities, for academic groups and small and medium-sized enterprises. It is integrated at the heart of AstraZeneca’s R&D center, in the new emerging life science ecosystem, in Gothenburg. Photo: AstraZeneca

“For our company, it is crucial to maintain close contact with the companies and knowledge communities that contribute to pushing the knowledge frontier in the fields we work in. Some of these companies and environments end up entering formal collaborations with AstraZeneca, but the most important purpose of BioVentureHub is to create a professional meeting place for creativity and innovation,” said Bjøntegaard.

From the Norwegian side, Oslo Cancer Cluster will have the role of identifying the companies that are offered residency in BioVentureHub. General manager Ketil Widerberg points out that promising Norwegian startups often lack industrial expertise and an important link to the international market:

“International collaboration is essential to scale up Norwegian startups. BioVentureHub can connect our start-ups to international value chains, and it is only a short train ride from Oslo. I think that will be quite effective!” Ketil Widerberg, Oslo Cancer Cluster


Lifting the entire Nordic region

The parties to the agreement also want to involve Innovation Norway, whereby Norwegian companies staying at BioVentureHub can apply for support during their residency. In the long term, the goal is also to involve Vinnova, Innovation Norway’s Swedish sister organization, in the collaboration.

“Health technology is an important Norwegian export industry, and at Innovation Norway, we encourage this type of broad Nordic collaboration between industry, startups, and research environments. By building stronger collaboration between the governmental agencies responsible for grants and support in the Nordic countries, we can contribute to lifting the entire Nordic region.” Håkon Haugli, CEO of Innovation Norway.

Over several decades, Norway has invested significant public funds in health research, but Christine Wergeland Sørbye, Managing Director of Oslo Science City, points out that several analyses show that we have been less successful than other countries in using this research to develop new companies.

“There is great potential here for business development that will both create new jobs and benefit Norwegian patients in the form of new medicines and treatments.” Christine Wergeland Sørbye, Oslo Science City

“By strengthening the collaboration between research and business across Nordic borders, we shall realize this potential,” says Wergeland Sørbye.

The post Unique collaboration to build Nordic health industry first appeared on Oslo Cancer Cluster.

On 25 January, around 300 people participated in scientific sessions during the 16th edition of the conference Cancer Crosslinks, themed “Bridging innovations to improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients”. All photos: Margit Selsjord/ Oslo Cancer Cluster 

A peak into Cancer Crosslinks

World-leading translational cancer research entered Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park during this one-day conference and created a buzz.

Once a year, the Kaare Norum auditorium is filled with cancer experts, researchers, clinicians, and students. Numerous questions arose from an engaged audience during the scientific presentations and in the mingling areas during the breaks.

The best way of experiencing Cancer Crosslinks, meeting fellow cancer professionals, and exchanging experiences, was of course to participate in person. If you were prevented from attending, we have made this accessible picture special of the day.

Oslo Cancer Cluster EU advisor Marine Jeanmougin during one of the breaks.

“The Cancer Crosslinks educational series aims to make the latest translational research in Oncology and Haematology accessible to Norwegian researchers and clinicians. It is such a privilege to contribute to shaping the scientific programme and to dialogue with world-leading experts.”

Marine Jeanmougin, Oslo Cancer Cluster’s EU advisor and part of the scientific Cancer Crosslinks 2024 team.


Prof. Sonja Loges from Heidelberg University was the keynote speaker. She gave the audience an overview of the personalized oncology landscape in Germany, among other interesting topics.

On 25 January, around 300 people participated in scientific sessions during the 16th edition of the conference Cancer Crosslinks, themed “Bridging innovations to improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients”.

This edition covered a range of topics, including targeted treatments and immunotherapies, the role of new technologies in oncology, and the impact of tumour heterogeneity on clinical outcome.

Dr. Leo Rasche from University Hospital Würzburg was one of the speakers at Cancer Crosslinks 2024. He also participated actively in the audience.

The audience gained insights, for instance into how the composition of the microbiome can affect response to immunotherapy, and in the case of myeloma; how a single dormant cancer cell can cause a patient to relapse after 10 years of remission. Participants also got an overview of the personalized oncology landscape in Germany and heard how AI-driven innovations can change the way clinical studies are run.

Dr. Lisa Derosa from Institut Gustave Roussy and moderator Dr. Marte Grønli Cameron from Sørlandet Hospital on stage during the event.


Be part of the buzzing conversation next year. We are already planning for Cancer Crosslinks 2025!


There will be a new opportunity to be present in person next January when we arrange the 17th Cancer Crosslinks during the 10th anniversary of Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park.

Oslo Cancer Cluster team member Charlotte Wu Homme opening the day

Speaker Prof. Mihaela van der Schaar

Speaker Dr Raza Ali

Moderators Dr Fredrik Schjesvold and Dr Katrin Kleinmanns with speaker Dr Leo Rasche

Cancer Crosslinks 2024 participants mingling


Oslo Cancer Cluster team member Dave Tippett mingling with participants

Moderators Dr Marte Grønlie Cameron and Dr Vilde Drageset Haakensen

Oslo Cancer Cluster team member Bente Prestegård in conversation with participants

The post A peak into Cancer Crosslinks first appeared on Oslo Cancer Cluster.

Bristol Myers Squibb and Daiichi-Sankyo sponsor this years Cancer Crosslinks, an networking event and platform for exchange of knowledge and research. Photo: Fartein Rudjord.

Making Cancer Crosslinks possible

Meet the sponsors behind Cancer Crosslinks 2024: Bristol Myers Squibb and Daiichi-Sankyo.

Cancer Crosslinks 2024, the sixteenth edition of the annual cancer conference, is scheduled for Thursday, January 25, at the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park. It is a free event, open to all, and will be presented both on-site and digitally.

This educational meeting, organized by Oslo Cancer Cluster in collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb, serves as a pivotal platform for collaboration and knowledge exchange in the field of cancer research and treatment.

To register and access the programme, please visit the Cancer Crosslinks event website.

Inspirational kick-offs

Charlotte Wu Homme, Oslo Cancer Cluster head of membership and events, is happy for the contributions to Cancer Crosslinks 2024 and expresses gratitude to the collective efforts of speakers, moderators, sponsors, and the wider Oslo Cancer Cluster membership and oncology ecosystem.

Charlotte Wu Homme. Photo: Stig Jarnes.

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) is the event’s co-founder and continues to play a crucial role. The company emphasizes the importance of events like Cancer Crosslinks, considering them inspirational kick-offs for the scientific milieu in Norway. BMS’s commitment aligns with the broad scientific innovations discussed at the conference, reflecting their dedication to breakthrough medicines and global patient impact.

man in black and white photo

Ali Areffard. Photo: Ilja C. Hendel.

Ali Areffard, Disease Area Head Oncology & Hematology at Bristol Myers Squibb Norway, emphasizes the company’s broad interest in significant scientific innovations.

We are continually seeking to launch breakthrough medicines to reach more patients around the world. Ali Areffard

He highlights the relevance of all topics on the programme for their industry, academia, and public healthcare organizations.

A crucial platform

Daiichi-Sankyo proudly co-sponsors Cancer Crosslinks 2024, recognizing its 16-year tradition of delivering high-level scientific and clinical content. The company views the event as a crucial platform for bringing together international and national researchers at the forefront of cancer research. Daiichi-Sankyo emphasizes the importance of such arenas in driving translational and clinical research collaborations to advance innovative cancer treatments.

Georg Lindefjeld, Medical Advisor Oncology at Daiichi-Sankyo, expresses high interest in various aspects of the conference programme. Particularly relevant to their work in developing Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs), Lindefjeld highlights the significance of up-to-date diagnostics, AI-supported precision medicine, and overcoming tumour resistance.

Georg Lindefjeld. Photo

For our company developing ADCs and cooperating with AstraZeneca and Merck/MSD to bring our new products to market, the tumour diagnostic relevance of our products, overcoming tumour resistance to treatment and combination synergies with immunotherapy in frontline settings are of high interest to us. Georg Lindefjeld


A day of innovative research

Marine Jeanmougin, Oslo Cancer Cluster’s lead EU advisor, is part of the scientific Cancer Crosslinks 2024 team. She is looking forward to an edition that features leading experts from the EU, UK, and USA, and prominent moderators from Norway, to discuss the latest advances in Precision Oncology & Immunotherapies.

Marine Jeanmougin, lead EU affairs. Photo: Margit Selsjord.

Expect a day filled with innovative research and clinical insights, at the forefront of oncology and haematology, says Jeanmougin

Opportunity for networking

Cancer Crosslinks has evolved into a leading forum, uniting oncologists, haematologists, translational researchers, healthcare providers, regulatory experts, and industry representatives. The conference fosters interactions between researchers and clinicians, encouraging translational and clinical research collaborations to propel innovative cancer treatments.

Both BMS and Daiichi-Sankyo express enthusiasm for the upcoming event, looking forward to the distinguished program, speaker panels, and informal interactions. BMS sees the event as an opportunity for networking and creating synergies going into 2024, while Daiichi-Sankyo anticipates engaging with researchers and clinicians that could lead to new collaborations and projects.

More about the speakers in the article Cancer Crosslinks 2024: meet the speakers


The post Making Cancer Crosslinks possible first appeared on Oslo Cancer Cluster.