Medicon Village companies are reaching milestones with clinical trials

Cantargia is expecting approval to start running clinical trials soon. RhoVac is recruiting their last patients. Also soon. And Idogen is preparing to produce cells at Medicon Village for their first clinical trial within cell therapy.

Cantargia and Idogen, are two of the Medicon Village based companies that are rolling out clinical trials. Reaching such a milestone is a lengthy process, often requiring at least three to five years of meticulous work, the best scientific and entrepreneurial minds, and miles of documentation in a rigorously regulated field. Drug development is a risky business, where 5.000 – 10.000 compounds yield one drug to market.

- We’ve had incredible focus on reaching milestones and sub targets along the way, to thereby get financing for the next step – and of course, generate interesting results. explains Göran Forsberg, CEO at Cantargia. We found CAN04 quickly.

CAN04 is Cantargia’s lead candidate with the potential to treat lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and leukaemia. Now, the company is patiently waiting for a go from authorities to run their first CAN04 clinical trial, a so-called phase I trial investigating safety, tolerability and how CAN04 breaks down in humans.

Already running a phase I/II trial is RhoVac. Any day now, they are expecting to recruit their last patients for the trial. Their lead candidate RV001, a therapeutic cancer vaccine, targets metastatic cancer cells and the current trial is in patients with prostate cancer.

- We treated the first patient in the beginning of April. That was fantastic, says Anders Ljungqvist, CEO at RhoVac. It’s a fantastic feeling and an incredible joy when what you have worked on for such a long time is successful. A big day!

Idogen is in the midst of the preparations for their first clinical trial. Their tolerogenic vaccine candidate will be tested in humans for the first time in 2018. Tolerogenic vaccines re-programme the immune system into tolerating defined molecules that otherwise create unwanted medical effects. To do this, Idogen prepares to use cells from the patients’ blood.

Solid work within the community

Idogen is preparing to produce cells in line with good manufacturing practice in cleanrooms at Medicon Village.

- Normally, with respect to drug production, you would use a contract manufacturing company to produce your material for clinical studies. For cell therapy based on the patient’s own cells however, the situation can be very different. When we did our cost analysis, we found it would be cost neutral to manufacture in house. It’s an advantage that we keep the competence in the company, says Lars Hedbys, CEO at Idogen.

Also RhoVac and Cantargia see a great value in working locally. Truly Translational and Truly Labs have for example supported Cantargia with the preparations for the clinical trial.

- It’s a collaboration that has been going on for a very long time and that has gone very well. We enjoy working with companies seated at Medicon Village, Göran Forsberg points out. Throughout the years we’ve had various collaborations here at Medicon Village. It’s a very good environment for these kinds of companies to grow up in. We don’t have our own labs and have chosen to outsource to others. We’ve also collaborated with Lund University located here at the site. All these things matter. It’s definitely been good for Cantargia to grow up at Medicon Village.

TFS, a global contract research organization (CRO) seated at Medicon Village, is supporting RhoVac.

- What’s important is that it’s a company that’s geographically close. If anything needs to be discussed, it’s easy to book a room and meet. There’s a great value in working with a local CRO, Anders Ljungqvist says.

With the progress of the development of the drug candidates, the three CEOs are all humbled by their work and the impact they aim for their future treatments to have in seriously ill patients – patients, who suffer greatly and for whom there is limited or no cure today. Additionally, it’s a costly burdon.

- I feel that we at Idogen, if we are successful, will leave an important contribution to make it better for people. This makes it easier to get up in the morning and go to work a rainy November Monday, says Lars Hedbys.

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