Affitech stands for cancer-drug discovery at Oslo Research Park
John Erik Stacy
Affitech is one of the hot new biotech companies to be hatched out of the incubator at Oslo Research Park. The name comes from AFFInity TECHnology and reflects a focus on developing drugs that have affinity for specific cell types, in particular cancers. The drug candidates that Affitech has developed are, in fact, based on natural human antibodies. Scientists at Affitech identify individual clones that latch on to specific molecular surfaces that can affect how quickly a cancer grows. In other words, Affitech is one the movers and shakers in the rapidly growing field of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.
r84 cancer drug candidate
In November, Affitech AS announced that one of the antibodies it has developed is a a strong candidate as an anticancer drug. The antidbody, called R84 for now, was developed for its partner, California based Peregrine Pharmaceuticals. Scientist at Peregrine have shown that the antibody is as effective as Genentech’s Avastin® in inhibiting growth of established tumors in a preclinical breast cancer model. As shown by drugs of this nature now on the market, targeted therapies for cancer are already an important part of the arsenal available to oncologists battling cancer cases.
Agreement with Roche
In addition to partnering with Peregrin, Affitech also has a research and licensing agreement with pharmaceutical giant Roche to produce antibodies against an as yet unnamed oncology target. The agreement tasks Affitech to identify candidate antibodies that Roche can then further develop and commercialize. The financial terms of the collaboration with Roche include research fees, milestone payments and royalties on net sales upon commercialization of any product.
Leadership, investors and The Incubator
Affitech was fostered in the scientific environment of the University of Oslo’s Biotech Center at the Oslo Research Park under their founder Ole Jørgen Marvik, Ph.D. Affitech CEO. Dr. Martin Welschof heads a team of scientists drawn from this environment and others like it around the world. The company received support from the Norwegian Research Council (NFR) for its collaborative research and development projects with the Norwegian National and Cancer Hospitals (Rikshospital/Radiumhospital). The Norwegian investment community, including actors like Oslo based Teknoinvest, provided important seed money as well as continued support through its ramp up. With its track record in research and recently developed drug candidates it appears that Affitech’s supporters will be well rewarded!
This article was also published in the Norwegian American Weekly.