In 2016, Nordic Nanovector raised NOK 499 million in capital. Among other things, the funding will be used to prepare for the market launch of the company’s lymphoma treatment.
Nordic Nanovector may soon outperform its ‘big brother’ Algeta. The company delivered excellent results in 2016; it raised nearly half a billion Norwegian kroner, the results of the clinical trials were good, and four research projects were established with international partners.
The most important thing, however, is that Betalutin®, the product Nordic Nanovector is developing as a treatment against lymphoma, is showing good clinical effect in trials, and that everything is on track for submission of the application for regulatory approval in the first half-year 2019.
‘Lymphoma is the tenth most common form of cancer in the world, and the market could reach more than USD 12 billion in 2018. If it is approved, Betalutin® could meet a treatment need in patients with a variant of lymphoma that is both common and difficult to treat,’ says Tone Kvåle, the company’s CFO.
Betalutin® is a type of Antibody-Radionuclide-Conjugate. A radioactive metal, lutetium-177, is conjugated to an antibody, CD37. The drug is administered to the patient by injection. The antibody causes Betalutin® to only attach itself to cancer cells, which are then exposed to targeted radiation and destroyed by the radioactivity.
‘In 2016, even more patients have been treated in the clinical trial. The follow-up of the patients confirms what we have already seen, that the treatment is effective, has few side-effects and that the effect lasts longer than previously observed,’ says Kvåle.
In parallel, the company is working on expanding areas of use for Betalutin® to include treating related types of haematological cancer for which there is also an unmet treatment need. In addition, the company is in the process of testing Betalutin® in combination with the chemotherapy drug Rituximab, the first-line therapy for lymphoma.
‘The results of the pre-clinical study were so promising that we will now start testing it on patients. Our theory is that Betalutin® can reinforce the effect of Rituximab,’ says Kvåle.
Four research collaborations
Nordic Nanovector’s strategy is to expand its product portfolio to include other types of haematological cancer in addition to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In line with this strategy, the company has established research collaborations with a number of recognised international partners: LegoChem, Heidelberg, Paul Sherrer Institute and Areva Med.
‘They will contribute their expertise in the further development of our antibody conjugates technology for the treatment of leukaemia,’ says Kvåle.
Antibody conjugates are antibodies that have been altered with different targeted molecules, depending on which antibody they are intended to detect.
NOK 499 million for studies and market launch
In December, Nordic Nanovector raised almost half a billion Norwegian kroner in fresh equity. These are funds that, among other things, will be used to finance new clinical trials and prepare the commercial launch of Betalutin®.
‘We are working closely in relation to opinion leaders in the USA to ensure that our treatment will be introduced in the most important market in the world if we are granted the approval we are planning in 2019,’ says Kvåle.
Strong international team
In 2016, Dr Lisa Rojkjaer, MD, was hired as the company’s new Chief Medical Officer (CFO), and two new board members joined from the USA.
The company’s CEO Luigi Costa also has an international background. He has focused on building a management team with expertise from the international pharmaceutical industry. ‘We believe that this has been important and the right strategy for us,’ says Tone Kvåle.
Many contributors have helped to secure the development process along the way, including Inven2.
‘Inven2 was one of our first investors, and it subscribed for a large part of the first share issues. It was important that they believed in us; it made it easier to attract other investors. That gave us an opportunity to start hiring and speed up the testing of the product,’ Kvåle underlines.