“This is the first step to turn our Advanced Therapy Access Program results into cancer therapeutics”, comments Pekka Simula, CEO and co-founder.
Oncolytic viruses enter into cancer cells where they aggressively replicate. The replication kills cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
The next generation oncolytic viruses address the key challenges of cancer therapy: They mediate sustained anti-tumor immune response, are tumor selective, provide systemic response and have mild to moderate side effects compared to routine therapies.
Not only is the innovation in itself significant, but its the first foreign early stage biotech investment in Finland since 1997 (Source: Technopolis Online) and very likely also the biggest ever.
Since the 1990s when Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, burned its fingers badly in biotech Finland has seen little to no activity in the space. There’s a tendency in the biotech field in Finland not to favor commercialization of the innovations, which is backwards as that is many times the only way to see one’s journal article ever get to see the actual market. Oncos is a case in point. The founders realized commercialization would be the only way to bring the treatments to market and see their innovation help the actual patients. And they seem to be well on their way to reach that goal.
Oncos is the first investment that Lifeline Ventures, a Finnish Vigo accelerator, has announced since the founding of the accelerator. HealthCap is one of the largest specialized providers of venture capital within life sciences in Europe with committed capital exceeding € 800 million.