Larsen and Bruland’s third cancer company will treat cancer that has spread to the abdominal cavity. They have previously enjoyed success with Algeta, which was sold for NOK 17.6 billion to Bayer, and Nordic Nanovector, which has a market value of almost NOK 5 billion.
Oncoinvent has made a flying start to 2017. In February, they raised NOK 210 million in a private placement, with well-known shareholders like Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, Stein Erik Hagen, Erik Must and John Fredriksen. The latter has never previously invested in the industry.
‘This is a fantastic boost for the company, of course. The funds will be spent on further developing our main product Radspherin, and on developing products we have in the pipeline in the field of cancer therapy,’ says Jan Alfheim, CEO of Oncoinvent.
Alfheim comes from Nordic Nanovector and has also worked for Clavis Pharma.
Metastases in the abdominal cavity
Oncoinvent’s product candidate has been given the name Radspherin™. It is classified as a new alpha-emitting product for treating cancer metastases in body cavities.
‘The main product Radspherin™ uses Radium 224. Ra224 emits radioactive alpha radiation that kills cancer cells. Ra224 is linked to microspheres that will be injected into the abdominal cavity, where it can effectively kill cancer cells with few side effects,’ says Alfheim.
Radspherin™ will probably not be regulated as a drug, however, but as a medicinal product. This entails a shorter and less expensive road to commercialisation and the market. The company hopes to be able to start treating cancers that spread to the abdominal cavity, such as stomach cancer, colorectal cancer and ovarian cancer, already in 2020. The latter type of cancer is the company’s main focus at the moment.
Other products in the pipeline
Tina Bønsdorff, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) at Oncoinvent and one of the company’s founders together with Roy Larsen, Øyvind Bruland and Thora Jonasdottir, explains that they have many other ideas that they are also testing.
‘Larsen and Bruland are a source of so many good ideas, and we are looking at some of them in the laboratory now,’ says Bønsdorff.
Oncoinvent started already in 2010 and it has taken some time to arrive at Radspherin™ as its main product. Initially, they focused most on cancer therapies based on antibodies.
‘The company is in an exciting phase. We are hiring key personnel, trying to find a commercial partner for the production of Radspherin™ here in Norway, and in April, we will be moving to new, bigger premises in Nydalen. Until now, we have shared premises with Nordic Nanovector, but because both companies are growing very quickly, we will go our separate ways now,’ says Alfheim.
You can hear the interview with Jan Alfheim and Tina Bønsdorff in the podcast ‘Radium’, which is presented by the Norwegian Radium Hospital Research Foundation: https://soundcloud.com/user-972208711/radium-episode-8