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Success Story:

SME’s research lands EUR 50 million investment for revolutionary cancer treatment

Dr Titti Martinsson-Niskanen

The treatment of cancer is one of the most important areas of research in the medical world. A small research-based pharmaceutical company from Sweden has, together with its partner in Belgium, developed an innovative form of treatment that stops the growth of cancerous tumours through angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels are produced in the body. Three years on, the company has announced its results and secured a EUR 50 million investment from global pharmaceutical giant Roche.

In 2006 BioInvent received EUR 2 million in EU funding to coordinate research into an anti-angiogenic treatment for cancer. Dr Titti Martinsson-Niskanen from BioInvent oversaw the project, entitled Angiostop.

'By itself a tumour can only be 1mm3 in size,' begins Dr Niskanen. 'Beyond that, solid tumours are dependent on the formation of new blood vessels for the supply of oxygen and nutrients, referred to as Angiogenesis. A major aspect that supports this process is Placental Growth Factor (PIGF). So, to put it simply, if we can limit the level of PIGF in patients, we can stop the growth of cancerous tumours.'

Getting started

Dr Niskanen and the team at BioInvent began by studying an antibody that specifically targets PIGF, previously identified by the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) in Belgium. BioInvent studied the antibody alongside ThromboGenics, another SME interested in developing antibodies for clinical use.

'We identified early on that our companies could complement each other,' explains Dr Niskanen. 'ThromboGenics is strong in cancer research and BioInvent is strong in development and manufacturing.'

The two SMEs joined forces and, combined with Flanders University and several clinical groups, created a detailed programme that outlined how they would develop the antibody for clinical use.

The programme
The success
Why it worked

What does BioInvent specialise in?
BioInvent is a research-based pharmaceutical company developing innovative antibody drugs to target diseases with unmet clinical need.

What is Angiogenesis?
Angiogenesis is the physiological process involving the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels. It is a normal and vital part of growth, development and healing. It is also a fundamental step in the transition of tumours from a dormant state to a malignant one.

What is Placental Growth Factor?
Placental Growth Factor is an angiogenic factor in the body that supports the growth of blood vessels. It does not affect normal physiological angiogenesis but only pathological angiogenesis, such as that required for tumour growth.

  • Contact:
    Dr Titti Martinsson-Niskanen
    Angiostop Project Manager
    BioInvent International AB
    Tel. +46 462863830