Affitech AS, the Norwegian human antibody therapeutics company, announced has its membership in the newly inaugurated Norwegian Center for Stem Cell Based Tumor Therapy (CAST).
In the frame of this participation, Affitech will use its proprietary CBAS™ (Cell Based Antibody Selection) platform to identify molecules of clinical interest. CBAS™ is a reverse screening approach which utilizes both patient-derived and naïve antibody libraries to generate fully human antibodies and their cognate antigens when present in their natural setup.
The CAST program, which has its origin in the stem cell research activities at Oslo University and the combined Rikshospitalt/Radiumhospital, has the status of a Center of Research Based Innovation (CRI) and has been granted financial support from The Norwegian Research Council.
In addition, Oslo-based Ulleval Hospital and the University of Oslo are partners in the consortium, along with leading Norwegian diagnostic and biopharmaceutical companies. The center is being coordinated by professors Stefan Krauss and Ola Myklebost and it aims to foster closer cooperation between academic and industry researchers leading to the development of new methods and entities for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
According to Prof. Krauss, “Our work is based on the assumption that heterogeneity is a major issue in many tumors, and subpopulations of cancer cells with stem cell like features, termed as “cancer stem cells” can be central in the development of cancer. Traditional cancer therapies targeting fast dividing cells may miss cancer stem cells. Such surviving cancer stem cells are presumed to play a central role in tumor relapse. Development of specific therapeutic methods against those cancer stem cells will eliminate the basis for the establishment and relapse of tumors and could revolutionize cancer therapy. We are delighted to have Affitech as one of our partners and to be able to utilize CBAS™ for screening unique biomarkers (targets) and antibody binding to such targets both for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.”
Dr. Martin Welschof, CEO of Affitech, commented: “As specialists in oncology ourselves, we are delighted to participate in this new initiative based on the worldclass research being conducted within CAST. CBAS™ has already enabled us to generate our own exciting pipeline of oncology antibody candidates in record time and we anticipate it will have a similar impact on CAST’s activities.”
The first set of product candidates in the Affitech pipeline are fully human antibodies for cancer, at least one of which is expected to enter into clinical phase of development by 2009.