On Tuesday this week, Oslo’s Vaccibody announced that it had entered into a collaboration agreement with Regeneron, one of the largest drug companies in the United States.
This led to the Oslo Stock Exchange placing a 22 billion NOK price on Vaccibody and the invention of Agnete Fredriksen and colleagues.
The company can make custom vaccines against cancer.
It is currently being tested on patients with kidney cancer, mole cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, and head/neck cancer.
PhD in 2007
Vaccibody, who will change his name to Nykode, was started by doctoral student Agnete Fredriksen and her supervisors, Professors Inger Sandlie and Bjarne Bogen at Rikshopsitalet. The starting point was Frederiksen’s Ph.D., which she received in 2007.
Her PhD can be assumed to be the most valuable in Norway to date.
In short, in 2007 Fredriksen was able to develop a new vaccine against cancer within the so-called immunotherapy.
It is part of her work that she has built on basic research led by Sandley, Pugin, and others from the 1980s and 1990s.
Strong in the treatment of cancer
Frederiksen’s challenge with his Ph.D. was to separate cancerous cells from healthy cells. In this way, the patient can receive an effective treatment and does not kill the healthy cells in the body.
Frederiksen’s proposal for a solution was to take advantage of the fact that certain types of cancer cells have some unique proteins on the surface.
This has enabled her and her colleagues to develop a new cancer vaccine that relies on a patient’s cancer cells, but is easy to switch from one patient to another.
An important point of this new vaccine is that it triggers a powerful immune response that attacks cancer on a large scale.
Frederiksen emphasized in his doctoral thesis that it is important that a patient receives the vaccine as soon as possible after a person is diagnosed with cancer.
Cooperation with Regeneron
Vaccibody’s stake rose directly when the cooperation agreement with American Regeneron became known. The agreement alone is valued at NOK 8.3 billion for the Norwegian company, according to Dagens Næringsliv.
– This is confirmation that we have built what the preferred vaccine platform is, Frederiksen tells the newspaper.
Here in Norway, Regeneron is best known as the company behind REGN-COV2, a coronary drug that US President Donald Trump demanded when he became ill with covid-19. The drug is not approved for use by US health authorities at this time.
In 2019 forskning.no told the story of Agnet Frederiksen’s research and founding of Vaccibody.
You can read it here:
Research Funding: Cancer Vaccines on the Way Out of ‘Death Valley’
Around the University of Oslo and the city’s large hospitals, extensive work has been carried out over the past 20-30 years to develop new medical inventions and businesses. This work was supported by the Research Council and Innovation Norway.
Experience is to succeed. But when someone does, it can lead to major breakthroughs.
Algeta and Photocure are perhaps the best examples before Vaccibody (new icon).
Frederiksen told forskning.no that the race for the next generation of drugs in this area is tough. Therefore, a lot of developing a cancer vaccine is about moving as quickly as possible into the future without facing too many hurdles.
- The great thing about the Agnete Fredriksen and Vaccibody (Nykode) cancer vaccine is that it adapts to each patient’s specific mutations in the cancer cells. It works more specifically than other immunotherapy.
- This is how the medication that each patient receives is tailored specifically to that patient and the patient’s specific tumor.
- The vaccine is injected with a small, hand-held device that is needle-free and almost painless. The vaccine is pushed into the muscle at high pressure without a needle.
Source: Agnete Fredriksen / forskning.no
It takes a long time
It takes a long time to find drugs, and at the same time it is generally more difficult to raise large sums of money especially in Norway and Europe than in the USA, Agnet Frederiksen told forskning.no in 2019.
She added that Vaccibody would not have been able to do without government funding, among others, from the Research Council. Much of her working time was spent applying for this money.
Frederiksen believes that researchers in Norway are now among the best in the world in immunotherapy against cancer.
– What we’re missing is the value chain that comes next, she says in an interview with Teknisk Ukeblad (TU).
Keep dropping everything
Frederiksen told TU that in 2014 she was about to drop everything.
But this year, another Norwegian pharmaceutical company, Algeta, took a hit and was acquired by German Bayer for NOK 17.6 billion.
Suddenly, biotech got “hot” in Norway and investors saw the potential for profit.
In the same period, immunotherapy also went from being completely ugly to becoming something that has proven to be effective.
– That summer I was very high.
– It was a very exciting process to get money for the first time, and many of the investors we got afterwards are still with us, Frederiksen tells TU
It can also be used against viruses and epidemics
She adds that the Vaccibody technology may also be suitable for viruses and epidemics.
In the future, it may be easy to replace what is specific to each disease separately, whether it is cancer or a virus.
We can replace specific parts like Lego blocks, and easily make a vaccine against just about anything, says Frederiksen.
View the PhD degree from Agnete Fredriksen on the UiO website.
We’d love to hear from you!
Please contact here
Do you have any comments, questions, praise or criticism? Or tips on something to write about?