A Meeting of Scientific Masterminds

Nykode's cutting-edge technologies may help us develop vaccines that target cancer.

Michael Engsig, CEO of, saysto develop novel DNA-based cancer vaccines is much more than a business deal, but a “meeting of scientific masterminds” that can change the paradigm of cancer treatment. The past few decades have seen tremendous breakthroughs in the field of cancer immunotherapy, but as transformative as these approaches have been for some, many people with cancer do not respond to them.

Since its founding in 2007, Nykode (formerly called Vaccibody), a biopharmaceutical company based in Norway, has been focused on realizing the full potential of cancer immunotherapy by developing cutting-edge, targeted DNA-based vaccines for clinical use. One of their lead programs is focused on targeting neoantigens – foreign proteins expressed specifically on the surface of tumor cells – which may be an effective approach for harnessing a person’s immune system to fight cancer.

But bringing new treatment approaches like individualized cancer vaccines to patients takes time and requires collaboration with equally passionate partners. In 2020, Nykode and Genentech established a partnership to develop individualized neoantigen cancer vaccines against different types of solid tumors. From the start, this collaboration has been a success.

“Genentech is a scientific pioneer within the neoantigen cancer vaccine space. I’ve been really impressed with the collaborative spirit,” Engsig says. “Fortunately, there’s been a fantastic cultural fit between our teams.”

Don O’Sullivan, head of Roche Pharma Partnering for Oncology, agrees that together, the scientists can accelerate our understanding of the science behind cancer immunotherapy. “This collaboration with Nykode maximizes our chances of treating cancer patients with neoantigen vaccines,” he says. “It has the potential to transform the treatment landscape for many types of cancers.”

If you have an opportunity for collaboration or an interesting technology, or if you have an asset in one of our areas of interest, we would like to hear from you.

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