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Orion develops immuno-oncology drug discovery platform

Outi Vaarala

Orion is developing an immuno-oncology (IO) drug discovery platform in the national research and innovation consortium Cancer IO.

The national research and innovation project Cancer IO started in May as a part of Business Finland’s Personalized Health Program. The project will develop new solutions to enhance immunotherapy treatments and support the introduction of new therapies. Orion is one of the companies participating in the project, and the aim is to develop and establish an immuno-oncology drug discovery platform (IO platform) at Orion.

“Collaboration with the academic and industry partners in the Cancer IO network will radically boost the achievement of these goals. The various participants will bring the right expertise and technologies into the project. The Cancer IO consortium will also give access to Finnish biobank samples and the unique cell models which provide opportunities for innovative solutions to the development of personalized therapies,” says Outi Vaarala, Orion’s new Senior Vice President, R&D as of 1 June 2020.

New kinds of competence and wide expertise

This project coordinated by the University of Helsinki will integrate a significant number of Finnish immuno-oncology projects, which will be carried out at the universities of Helsinki and Turku, three university hospitals and one central hospital as well as in eight Finnish companies. The Cancer IO project also includes several patient organisations and the nine largest IO-investing pharmaceutical companies. Orion is one of the pharmaceutical companies taking part in the project.

Since the research of IO treatments is a new area for Orion, the development of the research methods and technologies will require new kinds of competence and wide expertise. Orion already invested in strengthening this competence area last year and has recruited an IO team for the development of the IO platform.

Cancer IO

The Cancer IO programme seeks to meet the new challenges of the immuno-oncology era by supporting Finnish top-level research and innovation, by advancing the individualization and introduction of cancer treatments in hospitals and by creating new methods to evaluate the efficacy of IO therapies in everyday use.

Photo of Outi Vaarala, Senior Vice President, R&D, Orion