Apr 4, 2022
Dr. Jens Bjørheim is the Chief Medical Officer at Ultimovacs which is taking advantage of the environment for R&D in the science around cancer vaccines in the Oslo region of Norway. Ultimovacs is working with peptide vaccines and long peptides. These peptides will drive for a specific subgroup of immune cells called the CD4 cells, or the helper cells, which coordinate the immune attack against infection and cancer.
Jens explains, "In some patients, they do not have the sufficient number or repertoire of immune cells that are needed to kill off the whole tumor. And we believe that adding T-cells or immune cells that can recognize specific things in the tumors, like in our case, an enzyme called telomerase, can benefit the patients in the future. So the checkpoint inhibitors on one side, they allow the immune system to kill off the cancer. On the other side, the immune system sometimes needs more help. There need to be more T-cells and more differentiation among the T-cells to really cure people from cancer."
"In our vaccine, we have sequences from an enzyme called telomerase. Why do we target telomerase? Well, in all cancers, they need to have a strategy for eternal cell division, and 85% to 90% of all cancers have turned on this enzyme, telomerase, which allows them, at least in theory, to divide forever. So this is an essential enzyme for the tumor cells. They cannot turn off this enzyme because if they do so, they cannot divide anymore, so we are targeting one of the core and essential features of the cancer."
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