UPM Biomedicals to advance cancer immunotherapies in Finnish Cancer IO project

Press Release 19.5.2020 10:00 EEST

(UPM, Helsinki, 19 May 2020 at 10:00 EET) – UPM Biomedicals takes part in a new cancer immunotherapy focused top-level collaborative research and innovation project, Cancer IO. The Cancer IO project starts as part of Business Finland’s Personalized Health Program. This University of Helsinki coordinated project integrates immuno-oncology (IO) activities at the Universities of Helsinki and Turku, three university hospitals and one central hospital, eight Finnish small or medium enterprises, several cancer patient organizations and the nine largest IO-investing pharmaceutical companies. With a total funding of 10 million euros, Cancer IO is a significant IO focused Nordic research and innovation program. UPM Biomedicals offers and develops 3D cell culture products that can be used in the field of personalized medicine and IO research.


Recently, the rapid development of immuno-oncology (IO) therapies has transformed the cancer treatment landscape for many different types of cancer. Early capture of IO concepts in research, hospitals and society is important since IO is a fundamentally different approach to cancer treatment. While traditional chemotherapy drugs display more general toxicity acting not only on cancer cells, but also normal cells, IO treatments unlock the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. In essence, IO is a broad therapeutic master plan to outsmart cancer, now becoming available in the clinic with an unprecedented number of new investigational drugs currently developed by established and emerging pharma companies in the world.

The coming age of IO will have a transformative impact on fundamental and clinical cancer research, healthcare systems, business and, most importantly, on the lives of cancer patients. Individual Finnish researchers, hospitals and small companies have already excelled in capturing and developing IO strategies to match the ongoing evolution in the field of cancer research and care but, so far these efforts have lacked synergies that broader coordinated national collaborative can offer.   

Cancer IO will specifically boost the Finnish IO capabilities by supporting top-level research, business competitiveness, individualization of care and competence in capturing real-world evidence. In broader picture, Cancer IO will drive creation of a Finnish IO ecosystem and national IO growth strategy, aiming to provide wealth and well-being through disruptive Finnish IO innovations and better care. Cancer IO is coordinated by Dr. Jeroen Pouwels and Research Director Juha Klefström.

“We are very excited to take part in this project and combine our know-how in biomedicals with top scientists across Finnish cancer research field,” says Johana Kuncova-Kallio, Director at UPM Biomedicals. “We advance personalized treatments through our birch-based GrowDex product range. They enable growth of tumor cells and other disease model cells in 3D environments and selection of the best immuno-oncological therapies,” Kuncova-Kallio continues. 

UPM Biomedicals GrowDex.jpg

For further information please contact:
Johana Kuncova-Kallio, Director, UPM Biomedicals, tel. +358 40 612 6300, www.upmbiomedicals.com
Juha Klefström, Research Director, juha.klefstrom@helsinki.fi, cancerio-office@helsinki.fi, www.cancerio.org

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