OSLO, Norway--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Targovax, an oncology biopharma company, today announced that it has secured NOK 13 million (USD 2.2 million) from a consortium comprising the Radium Hospital Research Foundation, Birk Venture, RO Invest and existing owners for further development of its lead candidate, TG01, a therapeutic vaccine for pancreatic cancer. This funding follows the award of an Innovation Norway grant of NOK 9 million in early December 2011.
“We are delighted to have secured significant private and public funding for the project. This will enable us to file an application and manufacture first GMP batches for clinical trials. We aim to recruit the first patients in clinical studies by the end of Q4, 2012.”
Targovax has made rapid progress since its formation in October 2010 to develop TG01, which is based on research from the end of the 90’s in Norway at the Radium Hospital and Norsk Hydro, when the vaccine was tested in patients with good results. Since the decision to continue this research, Targovax has already received Orphan Drug Status for TG01 in EU and USA.
Hanne Mette D. Kristensen, CEO, states “We are delighted to have secured significant private and public funding for the project. This will enable us to file an application and manufacture first GMP batches for clinical trials. We aim to recruit the first patients in clinical studies by the end of Q4, 2012.”
Jónas Einarsson, CEO of the Norwegian Radium Hospital Research Foundation, and Chairman of the Board, Oslo Cancer Cluster, sees Targovax as a very exciting investment: “The company will develop a product which builds on more than 20 years of research at the Radium Hospital and Norsk Hydro. Although only recently established, Targovax already has in place a competent team and I look forward to seeing its progress."
Hans Ivar Robinson, Managing Director, Birk Venture, says: "We are delighted to be part of the development of a new therapeutic approach for pancreatic cancer patients. The therapeutic vaccine approach addresses a significant unmet medical need, and we are excited to see it moving further into the clinical and commercial stages."
Notes for editors:
Targovax was started in October 2010 to develop TG01, a vaccine targeting pancreatic cancer. TG01 is based on research from The Radium Hospital and Norsk Hydro in the end of the 90’s. The drug has already been tested in patients, and the company is building on these results. The company is based in Lysaker close to Oslo, Norway, and co-located with Oslo Cancer Cluster.
Birk Venture is a Norwegian based venture company specialized in Life Sciences in Norway and Scandinavia. The company was established two years ago, and is run by a management with broad experience within pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Birk has invested in several Norwegian oncology companies among them, Algeta, APIM Therapeutics, Nordic Nanovector, BerGenBio and Targovax..
The Norwegian Radium Hospital Research Foundation
The Norwegian Radium Hospital Research Foundation is helping to build a cancer biomedical industry together with major hospitals and research groups in Norway. The Foundation are active owners in companies such as Photocure, PCI Biotech, Ultimovacs, Targovax and a number of other Norwegian cancer companies.
Cancer vaccines / immunotherapy
The Norwegian cancer research community has been in the forefront of understanding the mechanisms for cancer immunotherapy or vaccines. A cancer vaccine trains the body’s immune system to recognize and kill the cancer cells. The vaccine is therapeutic; it is given as treatment to patients who already have cancer. The TG01-vaccine was in clinical development in the end of the 90’s. A historical review of data published in 2010, shows that patients with a resected pancreatic cancer, and who participated in these studies, on average have survived longer than patients who only had surgical resection of the tumor. Some of these patients are still alive, more than ten years later. This is promising within a disease with a very bad prognosis.
Pancreatic cancer is a disease affecting 112 000 patients each year in EU and USA, and approximately 690 persons each year in Norway. Approx 15-20% of these are discovered at an early stage and are operable. The mortality is high, and the prognosis for these patients has been more or less unchanged the last 30 years. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer related deaths. Five year survival is 5% for non-operable patients, and only 15% for operable patients. Cost related to treatment of pancreatic cancer is high, despite the fact that current treatment has low effect. Approximately 80-90% of patients with pancreatic cancer have RAS mutations in the cancer cells. In addition, RAS mutations are frequent in colorectal cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Patients with RAS mutations within all these indications have proved to be difficult to treat with current treatment, and there is a significant unmet medical need.