Vaccibody is based on Agnete Brunsvik Fredriksen’s doctoral degree work in the early 2000s. In December, the company raised NOK 220 million in capital that it will use to develop personalised, therapeutic vaccines.
Vaccibody is part of an exclusive group of only two Norwegian companies that have been granted investment aid by the Norwegian Cancer Association. Fredriksen, who is now Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) at Vaccibody, has high ambitions.
‘The principle behind our technology means that we have the potential to develop therapeutic vaccines against most serious illnesses. We are focusing on cancer vaccines at the moment, however. We started with an HPV vaccine that is at the clinical trial stage and has shown good results so far,’ says Fredriksen.
The technology on which Vaccibody is based is a design that targets the vaccine so that it goes to the right antigen-presenting cell, which then activates the immune system so that the cancer-inducing viruses are effectively taken out.
World leader in neo-antigens
Brunsvik Fredriksen says that, with the financial muscle the company now has, it can achieve a leading position in a new field that is based on using neo-antigens to develop therapeutic cancer vaccines adapted to the individual patient.
‘Neo-antigens are new antigens that form when the cancer develops. They are specific to each of us. Based on our technology, we can develop effective, cost-efficient cancer vaccines, which is what we will focus on in the time ahead, in addition to the HPV vaccine,’ says Fredriksen.
The first patient was given the HPV vaccine in autumn 2015, and the first results of this clinical trial were available in autumn 2016: The results show that patients respond well to the vaccine. There is practically no mention of side effects.
‘That the vaccine works so well is fantastic. Sixteen women have been given our vaccine so far, and this number will gradually increase, so that we can study the effect more,’ says Fredriksen.
Result of immunology research
Vaccibody is located in Oslo Science Park, sharing an office and lab with Nextera, another company that is the product of research conducted at the University of Oslo. The CSOs of Vaccibody and Nextera both completed their doctoral degree under the supervision of professors Inger Sandlie and Bjarne Bogen in the field of immunology. Fredriksen’s doctoral work was so good that she received the King’s Medal of Merit in gold for it.