chemotherapeutic drugsAPIM Therapeutics AS is a venture-capital financed biotech spin-off from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU, Trondheim). Based on an original discovery by Prof. Marit Otterlei and co-inventors, the company targets a novel therapeutic intervention point shown to be critical in the regulation of cellular responses to stress and in tumor evasion from therapy.

Briefly, APIM Therapeutics is using a series of proprietary Protein Protein Interaction (PPI) blocking peptides targeting complexes formed between PCNA (Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen) and proteins bearing a novel PCNA-interacting Peptide Motif called APIM (AlkB homolog 2 PCNA Interacting Motif). A series of preclinical and other experiments have revealed the functional importance of PCNA/APIM-protein interactions in the regulation of cancer cell growth and apoptosis e.g. during DNA Damage Response (DDR) induced by anti-cancer treatment. Furthermore, it was shown that cell penetrating peptides containing the APIM-motif abrogate PCNA-APIM protein interactions and are capable of potentiating the action of several classes of anti-cancer drugs across multiple indications.

APIM’s lead therapeutic candidate ATX-101, is a first-in class compound targeting this intervention point that has recently reached the clinical stage. In preclinical experiments, ATX-101 has shown single agent activity in blood cancer and combinatorial activity with more than 25 different anti-cancer drugs in different tumor indications. Developed as a new therapeutic option for myeloma and bladder cancer, ATX-101 is currently being tested in a phase I study in advanced cancer patients. The study is being conducted by APIM’s fully owned subsidiary Therapim Pty Ltd.


By exploiting a novel therapeutic target, APIM Therapeutics’s vision is to develop novel single agent and combinatorial cancer treatments with the potential to address serious unmet patient needs.


APIM Therapeutics’s management team is composed of the following experienced members:

Kostas Alevizopoulos, PhD. | Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Kostas Alevizopoulos brings more than 18 years of corporate expertise in the development and commercialization of therapeutic, diagnostic, medical device and OTC products. His personal track record combines investment, licensing and commercialization experience with significant research & development and regulatory expertise in both the preclinical and clinical space.

Before joining APIM Therapeutics, Kostas held various executive positions including: CSO of Gerolymatos International SA (GR), CEO of Medexis SA (GR), Head of Preclinical R & D of Biovista Inc. (US) and Head of R & D of Apotech SA (CH). Dr. Alevizopoulos consults for several biotech companies, academic institutes and government associations and is a co-founder of several biomedical companies. Finally, Kostas is also a partner of Ventac Partners, an international life science business development firm with affiliate offices in the US, Europe and Asia.

Dr. Alevizopoulos received his Biology degree from the University of Athens, Greece and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He has also conducted post-doctoral studies in the Swiss Institute of Experimental Cancer Research (Switzerland) and the Schering Plough Research Institute (USA) specializing in oncology research. He has published more than 25 peer review publications and he is co-inventor of several patent families. He is also trained in European Patent law (Strasbourg, France).

Marit Otterlei, PhD. | Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Marit Otterlei is a Professor at the Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Prof. Otterlei’s main focus in research is on proper function of biological processes, including DNA replication and repair. Prof. Otterlei has >60 peer reviewed international papers within the field including several review papers. She is a member of the Royal Norwegian Society of Science and Letter, 2006.

Dr. Otterlei received her M.Sc. in Chemistry in 1988 at the Norwegian Institute of Technology followed by a PhD degree in 1993 at the Institute of Cancer Research at the University of Trondheim. Dr. Otterlei was visiting scientist at Trancel Corporation, Santa Ana and Pancreas Transplant research, in Los Angeles, California, from 1990 through 1991. This position was followed by a Post.doc post at the Unigen Center for Molecular Biology at NTNU from 1994 through 1997. Dr. Otterlei became researcher and assistant professor at the institute of Cancer Research and Molecular Biology at NTNU in 1999, and stayed in this position until 2001, when she became visiting scientist at the Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, National Institute of Aging, NIH, USA. Dr. Otterlei became Professor in medicine (molecular biology/molecular medicine) at the Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at NTNU in 2003. Since 2005, Prof. Otterlei has served on the National Board of FUGE (a basic research funding program) at the Research Council of Norway. In the same year, Prof. Otterlei was appointed Vice-chair of the Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at NTNU.

Prof. Otterlei is a frequent presenter at international conferences. Besides the status as primary inventor of APIM, she brings extensive experience in the field of molecular understanding within the area to the company's board.

Murray Yule, MD PhD | Chief Medical Officer

Murray Yule is a board certified medical oncologist who trained in the United Kingdom and Houston, Texas. He gained his PhD in anticancer therapeutics at the University of Newcastle and he is a member of the Royal College of Physicians of the UK. Murray has more than seventeen years experience in the Pharma Industry and has a broad experience of the development of early anticancer therapeutics having successfully filed multiple INDs and CTA applications exploring previously unrecognized cancer targets. In addition, Murray has published more than twenty papers in his career in the cancer space.

Whilst working at Eisai, Murray led the team that successfully achieved global market approval of eribulin for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. As the Medical Director of Astex Therapeutics, Murray was instrumental in its merger with Supergen Inc and ultimately its acquisition by Otsuka Pharmaceutical. As part of the BergenBio ASA management team Murray contributed to its successful IPO on the Norwegian exchange in 2017 followed by a further round of US investment in 2018. As a biotechnology medical officer Murray has successfully formed and driven translational and clinical collaborations with larger pharma including Novartis (small molecules leading to the development of ribociclib) and Merck (Immuno-oncology).

Hans Olav Minsås, MBA. | Chief Financial Officer

Hans Olav Minsås is a business executive with more than 11 years experience in the financial sector. Currently serving as a Senior Analyst in Consulting Agency Impello (www.implello.no) focusing on investment appraisal, financial analysis, accounting and financial management. Mr. Minsås fulfills the role of Chief Financial Officer within APIM Therapeutics advising the company on various financial matters. Prior to his employment in Impello and APIM Therapeutics, Hans Olav Minsås served as an Analyst at Spare Bank 1 and an Auditor, Financial Services at KPMG.

Hans Olav Minsås is a graduate and holder of a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Norwegian School of Economics.

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APIM Therapeutics's Board of Directors comprises the following members (in addition to Marit Otterlei).

Erlend Skagseth, MBA, Chairman
Erlend Skagseth is currently the Managing Partner at Sarsia Seed Management AS which manages the Sarsia Seed Fund. Erlend brings 25 years of experience from R&D based IPR, project and business development from Christian Michelsen Research, Forinnova and Sarsia Innovation. He has managed several turnaround processes and negotiated a large number of international contracts, licenses and trade exits. He is also a Board Member in Avexxin, Vaccibody and Geneseque.

Stener Kvinnsland, MD, PhD, Board Member
Dr. Stener Kvinnsland has more than 30 years of experience in oncology. He is currently Chairman of the Board at the Bergen Research Foundation, the Oslo University Hospital and Helse Stavanger Hf. Among Dr. Kvinnsland’s previous roles, he was Chief Executive Officer of the Bergen Hospital Trust (Helse Bergen), Head of the Department of Oncology and Medical Physics at Haukeland University Hospital, Professor of Medicine (Oncology) at the University of Bergen and Director Clinical R&D, Oncology for Pharmacia & Upjohn in Milan. He was also employed at Oslo Universitetssykehus Hf Chairman) and Health Faculty at Tromso University (Chairman). Dr. Kvinnsland also serves on the Board of BergenBio.

Farzad Abdi-Dezfuli Ph.D, Board Member
Dr. Abdi-Dezfuli is currently a Partner at Sarsia Seed Management AS. He has a strong background in preclinical and clinical research with extensive drug development experience from Eli Lilly culminating as Team leader medical, Eli Lilly, Norway. He also brings to the Board several years of experience in commercializing innovative medical/biotech projects from the Sarsia investment group. Dr. Abdi-Dezfuli is also serving as a Board Member in Avexxin and as a Board Observer in BergenBio and Vaccibody.

Jørgen André Nilsen, Board Member
Jørgen has more than 18 years of experience in the intersection of entrepreneurship and venture investment. He is an accomplished entrepreneur and the founder of several ICT and energy service companies, both in Norway and the US. He has also worked as an affiliate researcher at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) Learning on Demand program and worked as a technology advisor for the Norwegian Trade Council in San Francisco. Before joining Televenture Management as partner, he served as Investment Director at the Technology Transfer Office Campus Kjeller AS.

Martin Welschof Ph.D, Board Member
Dr. Welschof is currently the CEO for BioInvent, Sweden. Martin brings significant senior executive experience in the biotech sector having launched and/or built successful businesses focused on drug development and drug discovery platforms. Before joining BioInvent, Martin Welschof was CEO of Opsona Therapeutics, Managing Director and co-founder of Affitech A/S in Oslo/Norway and Copenhagen/Denmark. Prior to joining Affitech A/S, Dr. Welschof was the Director of Technology at Axaron Bioscience AG, Heidelberg, Germany. During his period at Axaron he worked also in the parent company of Axaron Bioscience, LYNX Therapeutics Inc. in Hayward California. Martin holds a PhD in the field of recombinant antibody technology from the University of Bielefeld, Germany. Martin Welschof also serves at the board of Nextera.

Birgitte Gangmark Villmo, Board Observer
Birgitte Gangmark Villmo is currently representing Investinor, the largest venture fund and investor in APIM Therapeutics, in its Board as a Board Observer. Birgitte has a Master’s degree in Financial Economics from NTNU and a Master of Finance from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Prior to her engagement at Investinor, she formerly worked 5 years at Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) as a graduate trainee and analyst, mainly in London where she was also seconded to UBS Investment Bank for one year. Before joining Investinor, Birgitte worked for a shorter period at NTNU and for a real estate company in Chile.

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APIM Therapeutics's Advisory Board comprises the following member.

Professor Justin Stebbing, Justin Stebbing, M.D., M.A., FRCP, FRC Path, Ph.D., Imperial College and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (UK).
Dr. Stebbing is a Professor of Cancer Medicine and Oncology, and a Consultant Oncologist at Imperial College and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, the Royal College of Physicians and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Stebbing sits on advisory boards of several biotech companies and international cancer committees and chairs the World Vaccine Congress and the Irish Cancer Society oversight committee. He is also on the editorial board of a number of world leading general medical and cancer journals such as the Journal of Clinical Oncology and the Lancet Oncology; he is also the Editor-in-Chief of Oncogene (Nature Publishing Group's cancer journal). Dr. Stebbing was awarded the Silvia Lawler prize in 2015.

Prof. Stebbing trained in medicine at Trinity College Oxford, obtaining a triple first class degree. After completing his residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States, he returned to London to continue his training in oncology at The Royal Marsden and St. Bartholomew's Hospitals. Funded by the Medical Research Council, he undertook a Ph.D. investigating the interplay between cancer and the immune system. Dr. Stebbing has published over 400 peer-reviewed papers, the majority of which as first or last author, in journals such as The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, Blood, Journal of Clinical Oncology and Annals of Internal Medicine, and has authored more than 100 book chapters. His work primarily addresses early and late stage trials of new drugs, mechanisms of disease including relapse and resistance mechanisms and prognostic indicators. 

Leads to Development
The Company enjoys the strong support of Leads to Development, a dedicated drug development and regulatory consultancy having two of its Directors, Vincent Dubois, Ph.D. and Jonathan Kearsey, Ph.D. advising the compny on various preclinical and clinical aspects.

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APIM Therapeutics has already raised more than EUR 9.5M from public and private sources since 2010. These include EUR 2.5M raised in the latest company round in December 2017. The round was led by current major investors Sarsia Seed and Norsk Innovasjonskapital III AS. 2 new major investors have also participated,  Bergens Forskningsstiftelse and Investinor AS, along with other company investors/shareholders including Birk Venture. The company will use the proceeds of the latest financing round to fund early clinical development of its drug lead ATX-101.

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About US

Management Team
Board of Directors
Advisory Board
Investor Relationships


About PCNA
PCNA is currently recognized as a "hub" protein interacting with a wide network of proteins involved in the DNA Damage Response (e.g. proteins involved in DNA repair, chromatin remodeling/ epigenetic & cell cycle control, signal transduction and apoptosis). During normal replication, proteins which facilitate replication interact with PCNA through a peptide sequence known as the PIP-box. However, under conditions of DDR stress, there is a switch in the affinity of proteins interacting with PCNA from those which, under normal conditions, interact via the PIP-box motif to those involved in coping with  stress through an interaction via the APIM motif. Via this "stress-switch" response, PCNA ultimately controls cellular responses to several stress inducing agents including a wide range of chemotherapeutic and targeted agents.

About APIM-motif
The APIM-motif is present in a large number of proteins involved in the DNA Damage Response (e.g. in genome maintenance, cell cycle control and signal transduction). By incorporating the APIM motif in a peptide drug, several cellular defense systems dealing with stress are simultaneously impaired. This results in hypersensitivity to many anti-cancer treatments as well as induction of rapid apoptosis in cancer cells treated with APIM-peptides as single agents.