About

Valo Therapeutics (Valo Tx)

is a spin-out company from the University of Helsinki, Finland. Valo Tx has assembled a uniquely talented team of oncolytic virus and immunotherapy experts, who together with the founding scientist have the necessary expertise to take its patented technology through clinical development and make it available to patients. The management team has a proven track record of developing successful companies from a laboratory idea to a full stock exchange listing.

The Business Concept

Valo Tx is positioned to transform the field of immunotherapy for a wide range of cancer types. Valo Tx's technology uniquely combines the best qualities of two distinct clinically proven cancer immunotherapy concepts - peptide vaccination and oncolytic virus-based immunotherapy. Building on an existing and recently FDA-approved approach for use of oncolytic viruses, Valo Tx has developed a proprietary, genetically modified adenovirus that will form the basis of its therapeutic approach.

Technology

Valo Tx’s methodology is to adsorb tumor-specific peptides to the surface of an oncolytic virus, thereby eliciting an enhanced adaptive immune response against the tumor. The tumor-peptides are extended with an N-terminal polylysine tail to increase their net charge so that the positively charged peptides bind to the negatively charged virus capsid via electrostatic interactions. As opposed to genetically engineered changes to the virus, Valo Tx technology facilitates the rapid creation of multiple virus-based immunotherapies that promises to provide lasting immunity to many different cancer types. This system addresses the need for rapidly adaptable tumor-specific and even personalized therapies, as the antigen expression varies in different patients and even in different stages of the same tumor.

Our team

Erkko Ylosmaki
Erkko Ylosmaki (PhD)
Senior Scientist
Biography

Erkko Ylosmaki (PhD)

Senior Scientist

Erkko Ylosmaki

Erkko Ylösmäki, Senior Scientist, has over 12 years of experience in the development of oncolytic viruses for cancer immunotherapy. During his academic career, he has developed various microRNA-regulated novel oncolytic viruses (both DNA and RNA viruses), for increased safety as well as potency. He has also developed numerous new oncolytic virus-based (e.g. Vaccinia and Herpes Simplex Virus type 1) cancer vaccine platforms that can dramatically enhance CD8+ T cell-specific anti-tumour immunity. Before joining Valo Therapeutics, Erkko worked as a senior scientist at Next Biomed Therapeutics where he developed novel biological drug candidates for cancer immunotherapy as well as set up a facility for the production of biologics in mammalian cell cultures. Erkko earned his PhD in virology from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki in 2013.

Erkko Ylosmaki
Scott Cuthill
Scott Cuthill (PhD)
Chief Business Officer
Biography

Scott Cuthill (PhD)

Chief Business Officer

Scott Cuthill

Scott Cuthill, Chief Business Officer, has over 20 years experience in the Pharma and Biotech industry, gained initially in a variety of R&D roles at Roche and OSI Pharmaceuticals in the UK, in the viral disease and oncology disease areas. Scott joined Valo Tx in 2018 and has considerable business development experience, having successfully led both in and out-licensing deals for assets ranging from early stage platform technologies to marketed products. Scott held the role of Director Business Development at Chroma Therapeutics in the UK as well as the role of Senior Director Corporate Business Development at Paris-based Ipsen Biopharma.

Scott gained his PhD in Medical Sciences from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and subsequently had postdoctoral positions at The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow, Scotland and The University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center in Madison, WI, USA.

Scott Cuthill
Petra Ahokas
PETRA AHOKAS (M.SC)
Laboratory Manager
Biography

PETRA AHOKAS (M.SC)

Laboratory Manager

Petra Ahokas

Petra Ahokas, Laboratory Manager, has over 10 years of experience working in laboratories, both as a research assistant and as a scientist, mostly in the field of cancer research. She joined Valo Therapeutics in 2018 and was tasks with opening and managing Valo's new research and development laboratory. Before joining Valo Therapeutics, Petra worked in cancer research at the University of Helsinki and extensively with oncolytic viruses as a Research Scientist at Oncos Therapeutics (now Targovax). Prior to that, she worked at the National Public Health Institute of Finland in the Department of Vaccines. Petra has a Master’s degree in Biology from the University of Helsinki.

Petra Ahokas
Petri Priha
Petri Priha (Lic.Sc)
VP of CMC
Biography

Petri Priha (Lic.Sc)

VP of CMC

Petri Priha

Petri Priha, VP of CMC, has over 20 years’ experience in expert and management positions in vaccine, biopharmaceutical protein, and oncolytic adenovirus process development and GMP manufacturing. Prior to joining Valo Therapeutics in January 2017, Petri served as VP of CMC at Targovax, and before that as Director of Process Development and Quality Assurance at Oncos Therapeutics. During his 5 years at Oncos, he was responsible for the CMC development of an oncolytic adenovirus cancer immunotherapy platform. Petri also served at Ipsat Therapies for 9 years as Director of Production and Quality of prophylactic biopharmaceutical proteins targeted to prevent antibiotic-associated secondary infections. Prior to that, he worked at the National Institute for Health and Welfare, where he was responsible for bacterial vaccine manufacturing. Petri is a chemical engineer (Lic. Sc. Tech.) from Helsinki University of Technology.

Petri Priha
Charlotta Backman
Charlotta Backman (M.Sc)
VP Clinical Operations and Regulatory Affairs
Biography

Charlotta Backman (M.Sc)

VP Clinical Operations and Regulatory Affairs

Charlotta Backman

Charlotta Backman, VP Clinical Operations and Regulatory Affairs, has a strong background in clinical research with 15 years of experience in the start-up, conduct, and close-out of Phase I to Phase IV clinical trials, mostly including trials in oncology and vaccines. Over the years, she has gained experience from interactions with several regulatory authorities in the EU and in the US. Charlotta worked in the CRO industry for Encorium and Remedium, managing clinical trials in various phases and indications before taking on the responsibility for management of the clinical trials with oncolytic adenoviruses at Oncos Therapeutics (later Targovax). Charlotta has a Master’s degree in Cell Biology from Åbo Akademi University. During her academic career, Charlotta worked as a Researcher and Project Team Leader at the University of Helsinki and Folkhälsan Institute of Genetics in the field of disease genetics.

Charlotta Backman
Tuuli Ranki
Tuuli Ranki (PhD)
VP Preclinical Development and IP
Biography

Tuuli Ranki (PhD)

VP Preclinical Development and IP

Tuuli Ranki

Tuuli Ranki, VP Preclinical development and IP (PhD, co-founder), has 14 years of experience in the development of genetically modified oncolytic adenoviruses for cancer immunotherapy. During her career, she has designed oncolytic adenoviruses and taken these through preclinical testing into clinical trials. Tuuli worked as a Director at Oncos Therapeutics and was responsible for the development of proprietary oncolytic adenovirus constructs as well as securing the company's intellectual property rights, where her work led to the successful patenting of products. Tuuli has gained in-depth knowledge of the cancer immunotherapy field through her parallel involvement in the analysis and interpretation of clinical trial samples, the results of which she has published. Tuuli earned her PhD in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki, and her doctoral thesis concentrated on oncolytic adenoviruses in cancer treatment.

Tuuli Ranki
Sari Pesonen
Sari Pesonen (PhD)
VP Scientific and Clinical Development
Biography

Sari Pesonen (PhD)

VP Scientific and Clinical Development

Sari Pesonen

Sari Pesonen, VP Scientific and Clinical Development (PhD, co-founder), has held scientific leadership roles in immuno-oncology biotech companies and has vast experience in clinical drug development. She joined Oncos Therapeutics as a Research Director and later took on the role of Head of Clinical Science, leading clinical sample analysis, which for the first time demonstrated the mode of action of oncolytic adenovirus-based cancer immunotherapy. Later, Sari worked as VP Preclinical Research and Clinical Science at Targovax. Sari gained her PhD in biology from the University of Turku, Finland in 2007. She continued her academic career at the University of Helsinki in a research group focusing on the development of oncolytic viruses for the treatment of cancer. She has supervised 3 PhD students and is a co-author on 60 peer-reviewed research papers.

Sari Pesonen
Matthew Vaughan
Matthew Vaughan (PhD)
Project Manager
Biography

Matthew Vaughan (PhD)

Project Manager

Matthew Vaughan

Matthew Vaughan, Project Manager, gained his PhD in Geology at the University of Otago, New Zealand, in October 2016 while working part-time for the company. His academic research involved the study of microstructural mechanics and velocity anisotropy in deforming ice, and its relationships to the large scale flow of ice sheets. Matthew has completed research exchanges at University College London, Oxford University, and MIT, and has participated in deep field expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica. During his PhD, he co-supervised several students, lead the construction of two new labs, and helped develop several apparatus for performing low temperature deformation experiments on ice. To date, Matthew is the co-author of five peer-reviewed research papers and has received funding support from the Royal Society of New Zealand, NASA, and the European Science Foundation. Matthew has recently joined Valo Therapeutics to assist the team across all aspects of the business, particularly UK operations.

Matthew Vaughan

Board of Directors

Paul Porter
Dr. Paul Porter
Member of the Board
Biography

Dr. Paul Porter

Member of the Board

Paul Porter

Dr Paul Porter, Director (MBBS FRACP) is a founder and Director of Freeman Road Pty Ltd, an Australian company that specialises in early stage biomedical investments with an emphasis on global research and development collaborations. Freeman Road has investments in companies across Australia, South East Asia, Europe and the USA.

Paul has established a research unit specialising in novel biometric diagnostic technology and algorithm development, with active programs targeting Respiratory disease and Mental Health Disorders in children and adolescents. He is lead Scientific Advisor to ResApp Health, an ASX listed company currently undertaking a multi-centre FDA approval study in the US.  Paul is also an experienced medical researcher, lecturer, director of training and paediatric physician at two major paediatric hospitals in Western Australia. He is member of a Human Research and Ethics Committee and the Clinical Senate of Western Australia.

He is passionate about supporting advances in healthcare in the developing world.

Paul Porter
Vincenzo Cerullo
Prof. Vincenzo Cerullo
Scientific Founder, Member of the Board
Biography

Prof. Vincenzo Cerullo

Scientific Founder, Member of the Board

Vincenzo Cerullo

Prof. Vincenzo Cerullo (Vince), Scientific Founder, is a Professor in Biological Drug Development, Head of the Drug Research Program and a HiLIFE Fellow, Translational Immunology Programme at the University of Helsinki.

Vince gained his PhD at the Centre for Genetic Engineering (CENIGE) at the University of Naples, Federico II in 2004. He then moved to Houston Texas (USA), where he completed a Postdoc at the Baylor College of Medicine. Later, he moved to the University of Helsinki and in 2012 was awarded a tenure-track professorship, opening the ImmunoViroTherapy Lab. IVTLab has raised more than 5 million Euros for research, including the prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant, the HiLIFE Fellowship and the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation grant. Vince received the Outstanding Young Investigator award in 2014 from the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, as well as the Excellence in Research Award from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy in 2015.

One of Vince’s passion is science dissemination. He has been involved from the beginning in the organisation of the Science Track at the Slush conference in Helsinki. Vince pitched on the Slush stage in 2015 and 2016 and on the Slush Y Science stage in 2017 (www.slush.org). Among others, he has presented a TEDx talk on the importance of creativity in science (https://youtu.be/1btbElPnREI ).

Vincenzo Cerullo
Milla Koistinaho
Milla Koistinaho (PhD)
Member of the Board
Biography

Milla Koistinaho (PhD)

Member of the Board

Milla Koistinaho

Dr. Milla Koistinaho leads commercialization of Life Science inventions arising from the University of Helsinki. She serves as a member of Board of Directors at Valo Tx. Milla has over 15 years of experience in commercializing biomedical inventions. She is a co-inventor in >30 patent applications and a founder of three startup companies based in academic, cutting edge science in Finland. Having served in managerial positions Milla has gained experience in bio-pharmaceutical project management, IPR generation and management, fundraising, out-licensing and other corporate transactions. Milla did her postgraduate training at Eli Lilly and Company, USA. She holds Adjunct Professorship in Neurobiology at University of Eastern Finland and completed her PhD thesis in collaboration with Stanford University and Scios Inc., USA. Since 2013 Milla has been a member of the Board at Finnish Bioindustries.

Milla Koistinaho
Matti Hautsalo
Matti Hautsalo
Co-chairman of the Board
Biography

Matti Hautsalo

Co-chairman of the Board

Matti Hautsalo

Matti Hautsalo is a Director at Bentmind Limited and its affiliated Finnish Oncolytic Technologies Development FOTD Oy. Bentmind is a development partner with early stage high technology companies, assisting them to build an international management team and to partner with high value-adding actors in science, industry and investment. Bentmind Group is involved with companies in fields covering AI, big data analysis, oncolytics, cell description optimization, and medical imaging.

Matti has been involved with high technology start-up investments since the start of the millennium, including working as a partner at the privately owned Finnish VC company, Aura Capital from 2006-2013. There he held chairmanships and directorships in several companies with science based IP assets and technologies, from live-cell imaging to material sciences and software businesses. Matti is also a founding shareholder and advisor of Confido Capital, a boutique asset management house regulated by the Finnish FSA. Prior to his startup life, Matti worked at McKinsey&Co and ING Asset Management. He holds an M.Sc. in Economics from the University of Helsinki and UA de Madrid.

Matti Hautsalo
Michael Stein
Dr. Michael Stein
Executive Chairman of the Board
Biography

Dr. Michael Stein

Executive Chairman of the Board

Michael Stein

Dr. Michael Stein, Chairman and CEO of OxStem Ltd., the award-winning bio-technology spin-out from the University of Oxford, is a serial entrepreneur, medical scientist, business executive, and strategic advisor with senior experience in healthcare, media and software industries. He is highly skilled in business development at the top levels of government and corporate enterprise. In 2001, he co-founded the Map of Medicine Ltd (the Map) with University College London. The Map was nationally licensed across NHS England (2005-15) and is now primarily used by commissioners for planning healthcare services across the continuum of care in the NHS and other countries. The Map was acquired by Hearst Business Media (HBM) in 2008, and Michael transitioned as executive vice-president (healthcare innovation) to HBM until 2011. Since 2011, Michael has assisted a number of start-up businesses, notably serving as the founding CEO for Doctor Care Anywhere, acquired by Synergix in 2015. Michael graduated as a medical doctor (Honours) and biochemist (First Class Honours) from the University of Cape Town (1988) and from the University of Oxford (Rhodes Scholar) with a doctorate in Physiological Sciences (Immunology). He subsequently was appointed as a Junior Research Fellow in Medicine at Trinity College, Oxford (1992-95).

Michael Stein

Scientific Advisors

Vincenzo Cerullo
Prof. Vincenzo Cerullo
Chairman of the Valo Tx Scientific Advisory Board
Biography

Prof. Vincenzo Cerullo

Chairman of the Valo Tx Scientific Advisory Board

Vincenzo Cerullo

Prof. Vincenzo Cerullo (Vince), Scientific Founder, is a Professor in Biological Drug Development, Head of the Drug Research Program and a HiLIFE Fellow, Translational Immunology Programme at the University of Helsinki.

Vince gained his PhD at the Centre for Genetic Engineering (CENIGE) at the University of Naples, Federico II in 2004. He then moved to Houston Texas (USA), where he completed a Postdoc at the Baylor College of Medicine. Later, he moved to the University of Helsinki and in 2012 was awarded a tenure-track professorship, opening the ImmunoViroTherapy Lab. IVTLab has raised more than 5 million Euros for research, including the prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant, the HiLIFE Fellowship and the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation grant. Vince received the Outstanding Young Investigator award in 2014 from the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, as well as the Excellence in Research Award from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy in 2015.

One of Vince’s passion is science dissemination. He has been involved from the beginning in the organisation of the Science Track at the Slush conference in Helsinki. Vince pitched on the Slush stage in 2015 and 2016 and on the Slush Y Science stage in 2017 (www.slush.org). Among others, he has presented a TEDx talk on the importance of creativity in science (https://youtu.be/1btbElPnREI ).

Vincenzo Cerullo
Nik Zeps
Prof. Nik Zeps
Scientific Advisory Board Member
Biography

Prof. Nik Zeps

Scientific Advisory Board Member

Nik Zeps

Professor Zeps has been recently appointed as the inaugural Group Director of Research for Epworth HealthCare in Melbourne, Australia. Prior to that he was the Director of Research at SJG HealthCare from 2012 to 2016 and head of their cancer translational research program from 2008. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Monash University Eastern Clinical School.

He was a member of the Australian Health Ethics Committee from 2006-2012 and the Research Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia from 2009-2015.

He is the chair of the Cancer Biology Group and a board member of the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA), and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Australasian Gastro-intestinal Trials Group (AGITG). He is the chair of the Primary Care Collaborative Cancer Trials Group (PC4) Advisory committee. His is a founding director of the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA).

He is the Australian representative on the Ethics and Governance Committee of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and is the Co-Chair of the Communication Committee of the ICGC-Precision Medicine initiative.

Prof Zeps recently received the 2017 biennial Ethics award from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia in recognition of his of his leadership in the development of ethics policies and standards, both within Australia and internationally

Nik Zeps