Two of the key figures in Lytix, CEO Edwin Klumper (left) and Head of Research and Development Øystein Rekdal (right). In the center is Jan Helge Lillebo, CEO in MedXplore AS.
Lytix – four years of technological advancement
In September 2017, Lytix Biopharma hired Edwin Klumper as CEO of the company. Klumper is Dutch, combines a scientific and business background, and has over 25 years of international experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, especially in cancer drug development.
Klumper is straightforward on why Norwegian Lytix raised his enthusiasm and interest:
“Many of today’s available immune treatments have the limitation that they only work in tumors that are hot, meaning they are infiltrated by T cells . If the tumor is cold, not infiltrated by T cells, current medicines do not work.”
“What makes Lytix unique is that we can document to turn more than 80% of cold tumors hot. With our technology Lytix was at least four years ahead of the market that now is in need of our technology solution as they are struggling to overcome cold tumors”, says Klumper.
A peptide with unique capabilities
“We notice interest from some of the most prominent cancer research institutes in the world who wish to cooperate with us such as Harvard and Cornell in the US, and Gustave Roussy in France.”
“Theese top researchers have never previously experienced a peptide with such good results fighting cancer in animal models,” continues Klumper.
Personalized immune therapy becomes reality
– Opening up the tumor with our peptide, reveals the person’s unique cancer barcode to the immune system. The entire cancer characteristics of the patient are exposed, including all mutated cells. Thus, we can offer cancer patients a personal therapy by using the patient’s own cancer as their own vaccine.
– This offers a significant advance in future cancer treatment. By combining our peptide with other immunotherapies, a wider range of cancers may become suspectible to better treatments.
“In the future, new therapies will be based on combinations that allow for more individual treatments for each patient. This is important because no cancer is the same due to unique mutations of each patient”, Edwin Klumper concludes
Thus, the idea of Lytix was conceived
The idea of Lytix goes back more than 25 years. It all began at the University Hospital in Northern Norway, where a researcher took the doctorate on a protein with a beneficial effect in breast milk.
It turned out to have high antibacterial activity, but could it be synthesized?
Incidentally, Øystein Rekdal who then took the doctorate, did further research on a fragment of the protein that proved to have a much higher activity than the original protein in breast milk. At the same time, an international article came out that spoke about the same protein in breast milk and its effects on cancer.
“The question was therefore whether our fragment had similar effect and if it were possible to make analogues that could be even more potent against cancer”, says Rekdal.
Potent against cancer
“We tested this in animal experiments, and discovered that when the fragment was injected, the cancer completely disappeared, whereas when the same protein from the mother’s milk was injected, no changes occurred.”
– This was a surprise, because in most animal experiments it is normal to inhibit the tumor, to stop its growth, but in our case the cancer was completely gone.
– It gave us a unique opportunity to see if the animals had developed immunity. After 1 month, we gave these animals cancer again.
– To our great pleasure, we found that the animals actually developed protection against cancer, the tumor did not grow up again. This was the start of the project.
– This occurred in the period 1993-1995. Both my co-researcher, Baldur Sveinbjørnsson , and I continued with our PhD in this field. However, we had found a molecule that led to the disappearance of the tumor. This was overwhelming and made it hard for us to have enough time to complete the doctorate, “explains Øystein Rekdal.