Ultimovacs vs. cancer

Norwegian company tests cancer vaccines

Photo: Astrid Waller  Norway’s oldest man, Carl Falck (father of Rasmus), is growing a mustache to support cancer research. Millions of men worldwide grow out their facial locks during “Movember” in support of research into cancers of the prostate and testicles.

Photo: Astrid Waller
Norway’s oldest man, Carl Falck (father of Rasmus), is growing a mustache to support cancer research. Millions of men worldwide grow out their facial locks during “Movember” in support of research into cancers of the prostate and testicles.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

Norway’s oldest man (107) is growing a mustache to support cancer research. Inspired by him, I will present a biotech case about enabling the immune system to fight cancer. Ultimovacs is a small pharmaceutical company developing novel immunotherapy against cancer. Their leading product is a therapeutic cancer vaccine. The vaccine is a result of many years of pre-clinical research at the Norwegian Radium Hospital and is a synthetic peptide vaccine based on observation of immune responses in patients with advanced disease surviving several years after vaccination.

The company has two ongoing trials. The first is for prostate cancer and the second is about small-cell lung cancer, with the primary objective of both to assess the safety and tolerability of vaccines and immunological response.

The idea was developed by Gustav Gaudernack in the 90s. He was a professor and head of the Unit for Immunotherapy at Radiumhospitalet from 1995 to 2011. He has initiated over 20 clinical studies in cancer vaccination, including the first peptide vaccine study in cancer worldwide. He has more than 50 patents and 15 licenses for monoclonal antibodies, cancer vaccines, and cancer diagnostics. Together with Anne Marie Rasmussen, Else Marit Inderberg Suso, and others he has developed the second-generation vaccine. Many patients experienced good results with the original vaccine. They now hope that the second generation will do even better.

Ultimovacs was founded in 2011 and is located in the Research Park at the University of Oslo. Gustav Gaudernack is the chief scientific officer. Chief Executive Officer is Øyvind K. Arnesen. He has more than ten years of clinical experience and more than ten years of experience from pharmaceutical industry. He is also a board member of the Norwegian Pharmaceutical Industry Association.

These promising developments have been made possible by venture capitalists. The majority owner is Gjelsten Holding AS. Behind the group is well-known industrialist Rune Gjelsten. He studied business administration at the University of Denver where he was on the ski team. His objective is to create value through active ownership. Another investor is Inven2, which builds bridges between excellent research and the next generation technology based industry. They are the largest contributor in Norway within the field of commercialization of research, owned by the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital, Norway’s largest and leading university and hospital representing pioneering research. The third investor is the Norwegian Radium Hospital Research Foundation. Their aim is to strengthen cancer research at Rikshospitalet University Hospital, including the Norwegian Radium Hospital.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 28, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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