Harald Mix donates to research into new ovarian cancer treatment

Harald Mix donates to research into new ovarian cancer treatment

Ovarian cancer is the most serious of all gynaecological cancers. Jonas Mattsson, adjunct professor at the Department of Oncology-Pathology, KI, has received a donation for research into producing a new method of treatment.

Ovarian cancer is currently treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, but being symptomless it is discovered at a late stage in 90 per cent of cases.
- It is a terrible disease, the deadliest of all gynaecological cancers, so clearly new therapeutic options are needed, says Professor Mattsson, who is also active at the haematological clinical at Oslo’s Rikshospitalet and in clinical immunology at Karolinska University Hospital.

Harald Mix, CEO of the venture capital firm Altor Equity Partners, is now donating SEK 3 million to help Professor Mattsson’s research group study an immunological therapy to cure or arrest advanced ovarian cancer.
- Hopefully the team can produce a therapy that not only prolongs life but also actually cures this form of cancer, which has an extremely negative prognosis, says Harald Mix. - The technique can raise the hopes of many seriously ill women. The research is also a good example of how international research exchanges can create greater resources.

Harald Mix came into contact with Jonas Mattsson at just the right time.
- I was reading about the latest developments in immunology and cancer research when I met Jonas Mattson, who is a top-level scientist and humanist. What he was wanting to do sounded incredibly hopeful. The method has had a revolutionary effect on previously incurable types of blood cancer and some positive effects on solid tumours as well, says Mix.

What makes you want to support research?

- Research and education is very close to my and my wife’s hearts. I studied for a decade in the US and the American philanthropic tradition, the spirit of giving back to society, made a great impression on me. I also know that there’s a shortage of funding for this kind of early research.

- The method involves genetically creating CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T cells, which attack the cancer cells, explains Professor Mattsson.

CAR T cells are killer cells. They have an antibody on their surface that acts as an anchor. Once they have bound to the protein on the cancer cells they can then kill them.

The donation will be used for lab studies and experimental studies of the method.

- The donation is a crucial one. Our studies will show if the method has an effect on the cancer cells and lacks serious adverse reactions when used for ovarian cancer, says Professor Mattsson.

It is hoped that a study on patients will be possible within 2 or 3 years.

The research is being conducted in collaboration with Michel Sadelain’s group at Memorial Sloan Kettering in the USA, who are world leaders in CAR T-cell therapy and studying, amongst other things, its effect on serious breast and lung cancer.

Text by: Ann Patmalnieks

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