Vaccibody was established in 2007 and close to 12 years later, the company is in full swing with clinical trials of several different cancer treatments.
– The principle behind our technology means that we have the potential to develop therapeutic vaccines against most serious illnesses, but we are concentrating on cancer, says Agnete Brunsvik Fredriksen. She is co-entrepreneur behind Vaccibody and currently acting as both president and head of research. The CEO is Martin Bonde, a Dane with extensive experience from the international biotech industry.
The technology on which Vaccibody is based is a design that enables vaccines to target the right antigen-presenting cell, which then activates the immune system so that cancer cells and viruses are effectively eliminated.
The company is based on Fredriksen’s PhD project conducted with professors Bjarne Bogen and Inger Sandlie.
World leader in neo-antigens
Brunsvik Fredriksen says that the company now has a leading position in a new field that is based on using neo-antigens to develop therapeutic cancer vaccines tailored to the individual patient.
– Neo-antigens are new antigens that form when the cancer develops. They are specific to each of us. Our technology enables us to develop these effective vaccines in a cost-efficient way, says Fredriksen.
The first trials with the personalised vaccine started in 2018. More than ten patients are currently included in the trial, which aims for a total of around 40 patients. The patients suffer from different forms of cancer including melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and kidney cancer.
In addition, the first trial in which the vaccine is used against the HPV virus in women, which is a precursor to cervical cancer, is still running. The trial is now in phase II and the results of a six-month interim reading of the data appear very promising.
New clinical collaboration
The icing on the cake in 2018 is Vaccibody’s new clinical collaboration with the American company Nektar Therapeutics. The company is estimated to be worth around seven billion dollars, and it signed an exciting agreement with the global pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) in February 2018.
A clinical study will test the combination of Vaccibody’s vaccine with Nektar’s immunostimulant NKTR-214. NKTR-214 has the ability to dramatically increase the number of T cells, enabling them to eliminate cancer cells, at the same time as the vaccine is able to help the body to make the right cancer-specific T cells.
– We are delighted to have entered into this collaboration with Nektar Therapeutics. The pre-clinical trials using NKTR-214 in combination with Vaccibody’s neo-antigen vaccine produced very promising results. We look forward to evaluating this combination in a clinical trial, says Bonde.
Stems from immunological research at UiO
Vaccibody is located in Oslo Science Park, where the company shares a lab with Nextera, another company that is the product of research conducted at the University of Oslo.
The chief scientific officers of Vaccibody and Nextera both completed their doctoral degrees in the field of immunology under the supervision of professors Inger Sandlie and Bjarne Bogen, and have chosen to commercialise their research.
Vaccibody has received major attention in 2018, in both Norwegian and international media. Among others, the Norwegian newspaper VG wrote a long story on the company, which was included on the front page.