Vaccibody’s next-generation vaccines

Investors support the biotech startup creating next-generation vaccine and immune therapy

Photo: John Keith / Wikimedia Commons
Hands of a scientist, under a sterile hood, preparing the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) vaccinia used to try to prevent cancer.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

In December the board of directors of a Norwegian biotech startup announced that a private placement had been successfully completed, raising NOK 220 million. The private placement was significantly oversubscribed, and the CEO was grateful for the commitment to the company from new and existing investors.

That startup was Vaccibody, founded in Oslo in 2007. It is a vaccine company with the vision of creating the next generation of vaccine and immune therapy. The platform has been proven in a variety of disease models including infection diseases and cancer and has been confirmed by academic and industry partners.

In general, vaccines stimulate the body’s immune system; however, they spread randomly through the body. This is where the startup comes in. Their medicine comes together with units that enable the medicine to reach the infected cells and effectively attack them.

It all started when PhD student Agnete Fredriksen constructed and tested the first Vaccibody vaccines that led to the invention. She was awarded with Medinnova’s prize for Best Idea 2003 for this work, as well as His Majesty the King’s Gold Medal in 2008 for her PhD thesis on Vaccibody’s technology platform. She then went to Harvard University for further refinement before returning to Oslo to continue her work at Radiumhospitalet. Since 2007 Fredriksen has been the CSO at Vaccibody, located in the Oslo Research Park, and is in charge of all internal and external R&D activities, steering international collaboration with academic and pharma partners. Her work involves vaccine development for a variety of cancer indications and infectious diseases for both the human and veterinary market. She is heavily involved in clinical development of novel vaccines.

In Norway about 3,000 women have undergone an operation to prevent further development of cervical cancer. This operation can have many side effects, but with Vaccibody’s solution, a vaccine may be sufficient.

In August an interim analysis of the results from the first phase of trials recommended a continuation of the trial. The CEO Martin Bonde was very pleased with the promising data they had seen so far.

The vaccine not only appears to have an excellent safety profile but the observed T cell immune responses also indicate that the medicine induces the strongest HPV16 specific immune response ever seen reported in literature.

The Norwegian Cancer Association has a venture fund that invests in early cancer research, and they chose to invest in Vaccibody. Other early investors were Sarsia Seed and the Radiumhospital fund. Early on the startup also received grants from the Research Council’s Program for User-driven Research-based Innovation.

The company now has a platform patent in the U.S. as well. Fredriksen’s advice is to have fun when you develop drugs!

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 27, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.


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