Meet our partners: Ultimovacs

2022-04-12

Ultimovacs is a Norwegian pharmaceutical company with focus on the development of new immunotherapies for cancer. The company portfolio includes UV1 - a potential peptide-based vaccine, as well as the patent-protected TET platform.

After the establishment in Oslo in 2011, Ultimovacs has worked with the stated goal to become a leader in developing immune-stimulatory vaccines to treat a broad range of cancers. Based on pre-clinical and clinical research on immunotherapies conducted at the Oslo University Hospital, the company has developed UV1, a drug candidate that leverages the high prevalence of the human telomerase to be effective across the dynamic stages of the tumor’s growth and its microenvironment.

In parallel, Ultimovac is preparing to develop novel vaccine products based on the patent-protected Tetanus-Epitope Targeting (TET) platform, combining antigens and the vaccine adjuvant in the same molecule.

We teamed up with with Harsha Madapura, Senior Scientist, and Roald Skurtveit, Product Development Manager at Ultimovacs, and asked why an Oslo-based company - albeit with a branch in Uppsala - chose to engage in a Swedish competence center?

“Ultimovacs has very good experiences from participating in international consortiums open to SMEs, industry leaders and academia. These types of consortiums allow us to build competence and knowledge on R&D challenges within our area through collaborations with partners that harbor technological expertise and capacities that are otherwise out of reach for SMEs such as Ultimovacs. Hopefully we can also aid in know-how and educational aspects within the field of immune-oncology.

Harsha Madapura, Senior Scientist
Harsha Madapura, Senior Scientist

The specific reason why we choose to engage in SweDeliver was first and foremost the focus of the consortium, i.e., drug delivery systems for biological compounds, which is a highly relevant topic within our area. The composition of the consortium partners and the research infrastructure that these partners represent makes SweDeliver uniquely positioned to be in the forefront of formulation research. Sweden has a strong position in drug research and drug development through academic institutions and international pharma companies and we therefore saw SweDeliver as a very attractive consortium for us to participate in with regards to knowledge building in the field of drug formulations and delivery.”

What values ​​does Ultimovac's involvement in SweDeliver bring to your operations?

“The greatest value that we have gained from our participation in the consortium so far is networking along with broadening of our knowledge concerning novel technologies and synthetic research models which may allow us to generate data on issues and questions which we may otherwise not have been able to address. Data and knowledge on the pharmacological characteristics of the type of molecules that we work on is of course of high value for our business, as it allows us to take knowledge-based development decisions and thereby reduce risks for our company.“

Sara Mangsbo is Chief Innovation Officer at Ultimovacs, Research director at Uppsala University and Leader of SweDeliver's Work Package for Training and Career Development. Does this in any way generate additional synergy effects?

Roald Skurtveit, Product Development Manager
Roald Skurtveit, Product Development Manager

“Sara is the Work Package lead in her academic role. We see this initiative as an excellent way to extend the knowledge from the industry to the academia and vice versa. The Work Package is focused on training and career development, something that is of high relevance for the society and the industry as we rely on competence to build a sustainable and successful company. As such, this cross-work package is a very important aspect of SweDeliver and we are of course happy that Sara has been appointed to lead this work together with Susanne Bredenberg, UU innovation and Andreas Hugerth, Ferring Pharmaceuticals.”

In the summer of 2021, Ultimovac welcomed SweDeliver intern Shengtao Yu, who took an active part in one of your research projects for six weeks. What are your views on this experience?

“Shengtao conducted his internship with our research team that introduced him to relevant laboratory techniques. With newly acquired laboratory skills, Shengtao studied antibody-peptide binding using the ELISA assay. In addition, Shengtao had the opportunity to analyse experimental data to interpret the outcome of the assay. During his internship, he had opportunities to learn and discuss basic immunology and biochemistry, which is a different field of science from his Master's studies. We believe the internship provided Shengtao an opportunity to gain insights into the processes involved in drug candidate identification and optimization. We also look forward to future working and learning with potential interns when opportunities arise.”

Vaccines against cancer is a field in rapid development. What can we expect in the long run?

“With better understood models, measurement techniques and knowledge about the factors related to drug delivery and how this affects the immunological response, it is to be hoped that development of new product candidates will have a larger probability for success and be able to develop new product with optimised clinical efficacy for the benefit of the user of the product. The success of the covid vaccines have spurred new interest into the field of cancer vaccines and for this area, the hope is that in not so long time vaccines targeting cancer will also reach the market.

Also in light of the covid pandemic, the hope is that prophylactic vaccination against cancer may become a reality within not so long time. In a narrower perspective, it is our hope that learnings from the formulation development on the mRNA bases vaccines are transferrable into the field of peptide-based vaccines which is Ultimovacs´ focus area.”

FACTS ULTIMOVACS AB

  • Is headquartered at the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park in Oslo, Norway, and also has an office in Uppsala, Sweden
  • Is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange in Norway.

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CONTACT

Harsha Madapura
Senior Scientist
harsha.madapura@ultimovacs.com

Roald Skurtveit
Product Development Manager
roald.skurtveit@ultimovacs.com

text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Ultimovacs AB

Currently at SweDeliver

Last modified: 2022-03-31