New methods for diagnosing and treating cancer

Under a call for proposals issued jointly by the Research Council and the Cancer Society in 2015, seven projects will be allocated a total of NOK 56 million over three years.

One project focuses on administering cancer medication using targeted microbubbles. Three other projects are developing different types of immunotherapy.

World class research
“Norwegian cancer research has attained a very high level. Norway has research groups in this field that are absolutely world class,” says Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Executive Director of the Research Council Division for Innovation. “But it can be challenging to translate good ideas from the laboratory into solutions for the market.”

Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Executive Director of the Research Council Division for Innovation, with Anne Lise Ryel, Secretary General of the Norwegian Cancer Society. (Photo: Thomas Keilman/Research Council of Norway) (Photo: Thomas Keilman/Forskningsrådet)

Anne Lise Ryel, Secretary General of the Norwegian Cancer Society, agrees. “There is tremendous potential in research and innovation for the health care sector,” she adds, “but the path from research concept to finished product is often long, arduous and expensive. We want research to benefit patients more quickly, and this cooperative effort with the Research Council is important for achieving that.”

Emphasis on benefit to society and commercial potential
The application review process was handled by the Research Council’s large-scale programme Biotechnology for Innovation (BIOTEK2021) and the Programme for Commercialising R&D Results (FORNY2020). Key assessment criteria were that the projects must:

  • be based on previous research;
  • have good commercial potential;
  • show significant benefit to society and involve potential users;
  • require development and conceptualisation of the relevant technology with an eye to commercial application.

The following projects will receive funding:

A Universal Killer T-cell for Adoptive Cell Therapy of Cancer
The objective of this cancer immunotherapy project is to further develop a universal killer cell that can be programmed to target and kill specific cancer cells . Up to now, T-cell therapy has had to rely on the use of the patient’s own cells (which must be removed from the body in order to be programmed and then reinjected). The new universal killer cell could potentially be used to treat any patient.

Project Owner: Inven2 AS

Verifying a New Generation of Oncolytic Peptides as Cancer Immunotherapeutic Agents for Deep-Seated Tumors
Oncolytic peptides provide the basis for a new type of immunotherapy for cancer. The objective of this project is to verify that a new group of peptides is effective in treating liver cancer, both alone and in combination with existing immunotherapeutic agents and without undesirable side effects on blood pressure.

Project Owner: Norinnova Technology Transfer AS

BladMetrix: a novel urine test for early detection and monitoring of bladder cancer
Bladder cancer is a common form of cancer and one of the most expensive cancers to treat. This project aims to find the best combination of biomarkers detectable in urine, and to confirm that the test is better than existing diagnostic methods. The result could be a new, non-invasive test to detect early stages of bladder cancer with high reliability, and which may also be used for post-treatment monitoring.

Project Owner: Inven2 AS

Microbubbles for Ultrasound-Mediated Cancer Treatment (BubbleCAN)
The objective of this project is to develop a method for delivering cancer medication using microbubbles and ultrasound. The gas-filled microbubbles are made of nanoparticles containing the pharmaceutical agent. Ultrasound is used to ensure that the microbubbles dissolve and penetrate the tissue surrounding the tumour. The objective is increased efficacy of the medication and fewer side effects.

Project Owner: SINTEF TTO AS

Urinary exosome test for improved prostate cancer management
This project’s objective is to use new markers to develop a better diagnostic test for detecting prostate cancer from urine samples. The biomarkers will be adapted to an immunoassay format to provide a more specific, more sensitive first indication of prostate cancer than the currently used PSA test. Earlier detection of prostate cancer could save millions of lives worldwide, while an improved diagnostic test could substantially reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies and treatments.

Project Owner: Inven2 AS

Developing Novel Anti-Leukaemic Drugs from Iodinin Analogues
Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is a form of leukaemia associated with high mortality. It is a difficult form of cancer to treat since there is no surgical approach and the treatment often entails major side effects. Investigations of marine bacteria have revealed new compounds (iodinin analogues) that have a promising effect on this form of leukaemia and may have fewer side effects than existing medications. The objective of this project is to optimise the new compounds and carry out preclinical trials in mice to demonstrate efficacy and safety.

Project Owner: Inven2 AS

Universal immunotherapeutic targeting of solid tumors
This project aims to develop a new type of universal immunotherapy that can be used to treat many different types of cancer by delivering molecules that stimulate the immune system into the tumour itself. This activates the patient’s own defence mechanisms to kill the cancer cells. The result could be a treatment that is effective for more patients and has fewer side effects.

Project Owner: Inven2 AS



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