5 January 2023

Niels Behrendt receives the NNF Distinguished Innovator Grant


Niels Behrendt, group leader at the Finsen Laboratory, Rigshospitalet/BRIC has received the NNF distinguished Innovator grant of 5.312.300 DKK for a project focused on creating test therapeutics of the Antibody-Drug Conjugate type against a group of less prevalent cancers.

 The project is based on the concept of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), utilizing specific antibodies to deliver highly cytotoxic drugs specifically to cancer cells. This concept has already proven highly successful in a number of cancer diseases. In this project, the focus is on a specific group of cancers, sarcomas and mesothelioma, in which surgery is generally the only efficient treatment available but where this is very often insufficient. The aim is to identify new optimal treatment targets in these diseases, to create ADCs against them and to demonstrate the utilization of these model drugs in tumor models in mice.

In the development of individualized cancer therapy, the goal is to create drugs that are specifically directed against the cancer type, sub-type and patient-specific tumor characteristics in question. Among several reasons, the need for such drugs is dictated by variations among patients, as well as the strong side effects connected with classical chemotherapy. We aim to develop novel specific, targeted therapy for a group of less abundant cancers, sarcomas and mesothelioma, which have a very strong need for novel treatment options. In the project, we will create test therapeutics of the Antibody-Drug Conjugate (ADC) type against these cancers, by utilizing specific cell surface components on the cancer cells which we have identified in the preparation phase of the project. The goal is to take these prototype therapeutics to the preclinical state that allows commercialization and actual development into a drug for use in patients. The grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation provides a unique opportunity to pursue this goal. Niels Behrendt

Niels Behrendt has a strong record in the field of academic innovation. In close collaboration with group leader Lars Engelholm, Finsen laboratory, Rigshospitalet/BRIC he has developed the basis for a regular cancer drug development program which is now being pursued by the spin-out company Adcendo, also working with the ADC technology. This process has also included the setup of a technology platform at the Finsen Laboratory, which now enables Niels Behrendt to undertake the novel independent project covered by this grant.


About the grant

The Distinguished Innovator Grant seeks to support research within life science, i.e., medtech, industrial biotech, or pharma, and to stimulate the evaluation of ideas that may lead to the development of health technologies, medical treatments, disease prevention, diagnostic methods, devices, and technological platforms. It is meant for applicants “with a proven track record within innovation, i.e., previous experience of academic innovation projects and experience with establishing patents and spinouts from the academia. Read more on the NNF website