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Valo Therapeutics acquires IP rights from the University of Helsinki

Cerullo and Pesanen

Valo Therapeutics has announced the acquisition of intellectual property rights from the University of Helsinki for the technology which utilizes pre-existing immunity (PEI) against pathogens to enhance the therapeutic efficacy of ValoTx’s lead platform, PeptiCRAd.

This approach takes advantage of existing acquired immunity (generated, for example, through vaccination against pathogens) by including pathogen specific peptides into the company’s PeptiCRAd platform, the company states. PEI technology utilizes body’s immunological memory and helps generate faster and stronger immune response in the tumour micro-environment, with the aim of enhancing the overall therapeutic efficacy of PeptiCRAd.

“The PEI technology, developed at the University of Helsinki, is clearly synergistic with ValoTx’s core PeptiCRAd technology and opens up possibilities to successfully treat even more challenging, less immuno-responsive tumor types in the future,” says Professor Vincenzo Cerullo, Professor of Biological Drug Development, Head of the Drug Research Program, and Group Leader at the IVTLab at the University of Helsinki.


In immunological tumour animal models, pre-immunisation with tetanus specific peptides significantly enhanced responses following subsequent vaccination with tumour-peptide coated oncolytic Adenoviruses; ValoTx’s PeptiCRAd technology, in combination with anti-PD1, states the company. The enhanced response was seen both in terms of T-cell response and significantly better tumour control. Three quarters of the animals treated in this way experienced complete inhibition of tumour growth.

Combining this approach with Valo’s PeptiCRAd technology could further enhance the immunological and tumour response across a range of cancers.

A Phase 1 study

ValoTx’s development team, lead by CSO Dr Sari Pesonen, is poised to commence a Phase 1 study using PeptiCRAd-1, a conditional replicating adenovirus incorporating OX40 ligand and CD40 ligand, coated with tumour specific antigens NY-ESO-1 and MAGE-A3, in three indications; melanoma, triple negative breast cancer and NSCLC.

“We have a strong and enduring innovation partnership with the University of Helsinki. This successful IP acquisition is part of our goal to strengthen and optimise our immunotherapy platforms, which have wide applicability in immuno-oncology, personalised cancer treatments and vaccines,” says Paul Higham, CEO of ValoTx.

“These are exciting times for ValoTx. We are ready to test the potency of PeptiCRAd in humans and our team is keen to simultaneously start developing our next generation PeptiCRAds by building in PEI technology,” says Sari Pesonen, CSO of Valo.


PeptiCRAd is a way of combining the best features of two clinically proven cancer immunotherapy approaches: advanced oncolytic adenoviruses and tumour-specific peptide vaccines, describes Valo Therapeutics. PeptiCRAd uses tumour-replication specific oncolytic viruses as active carriers of tumor-specific peptides to direct the immune system to specifically target and kill cancer cells.

Helsinki Innovation Services Ltd, an innovation and commercialisation company owned by the University of Helsinki, managed the patent protection of the intellectual property rights for PEI and the commercial negotiations with ValoTx.

Photo of Vincenzo Cerullo, Professor of Biological Drug Development, the University of Helsinki, and Sari Pesonen, CSO, Valo Therapeutics