chemotherapeutic drugsAPIM Therapeutics AS is a 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 within the DNA Damage Response Pathway (DDR) allowing the potentiation of the action of >25 clinical drugs across multiple cancer indications.

APIM Therapeutics’s pipeline of compounds includes a series of peptide drugs that target PCNA (Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen) and cell stress responses via APIM, a novel PCNA-interacting Peptide Motif identified in human AlkB homolog 2 (AlkB homolog 2 PCNA Interacting Motif). This motif is present in a large number of "stress" proteins involved in DDR and its over-expression ultimately regulates cell responses to stress e.g. in response to anti-cancer therapies upon DDR in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm (Gilljam et al., 2009, J Cell Biol 186, pp645-654, Müller et al,. 2013, PLoS One. 2013 Jul 31;8(7), Gederaas et al, Transl Oncol. 2014 Dec;7(6):812-23), Olaisen et al, Cell Signal. 2015 Jul;27(7):1478-87).

APIM’s approach holds promise for the development of novel therapeutic modalities comprising one or more approved agents in combination with APIM-motif containing drugs. The company, supported by venture capital funding, has recently submitted a clinical trial application and will be testing drug candidate ATX-101 in first-in-man clinical trials in 2018.


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 has assembled an international and seasoned team to run the company. The management consists of the following experienced business and research executives.

Kostas Alevizopoulos, PhD. | Chief Executive Officer

Kostas Alevizopoulos, the CEO of APIM Therapeutics since 2010, is a business executive  with 18 years of experience in the biotech industry. He is also a partner of Ventac Partners SA, an international life science business development firm with affiliate offices in the US, Europe and Asia.

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; he is also a co-founder of several companies and of the Hellenic Biotechnology Cluster . 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 preclinical oncology research (>25 publications to his credit). Dr. Alevizopoulos is trained in European Patent Law (Robert Schuman University of Strasbourg, France).

Marit Otterlei, PhD. | Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Marit Otterlei is 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 >55 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.

Hans Olav Minsås, MBA. | Chief Financial Officer

Hans Olav Minsås is a business executive with more than 10 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 the CSO).

Erlend Skagseth, MBA, Chairman
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. E. Skagseth is currently a Partner at Sarsia Seed Management AS and serves as the Chairman of the Board of APIM Therapeutics. He is also a Board Member in Avexxin, Vaccibody and Geneseque.

Farzad Abdi-Dezfuli Ph.D
Dr. Abdi-Dezfuli’s background is in preclinical and clinical research with extensive drug development experience from Eli Lilly and Company 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 (www.sarsiaseed.com) based in Norway.

Dr. Abdi-Dezfuli is currently a Partner at Sarsia Seed Management AS (www.sarsiaseed.com) which manages the Sarsia Seed Fund, the only qualified seed fund in Norway with life-science as a designated investment area. He is also serving as a Board Member in Avexxin and as a Board Observer in BergenBio and Vaccibody. 

Dr. Abdi-Dezfuli received his doctorate in the field of pharmacology/endocrinology from the University of Edinburgh Medical School and his postdoctoral training from Haukeland University Hospital Bergen, Norway.

Jørgen André Nilsen
Jørgen has >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
Martin Welschof is the CEO of Opsona Therapeutics a leading immunology drug development company, focused on novel therapeutic approaches to key targets of the innate immune system associated with a wide range of inflammatory related human diseases, including transplant rejection and cancer. Before joining Opsona, Martin was the Managing Director and Co-founder of Affitech A/S, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of human antibodies. Under his leadership Affitech AS was transformed through a reverse merger in 2009 with Pharmexa A/S a public Danish company and listed on the Copenhagen stock exchange. In 2010 he was one of the key resources concerning the implementation of a strategic partnership with the Russian Pharmaceutical IBC Generium as well as securing strategic investment from major Russian pharma players. Prior to Affitech Martin was the Director of Technology at Axaron Bioscience AG responsible for transcription analysis and functional genomics. During that time he worked at Axaron’s parent company, LYNX Therapeutics Inc., Hayward, California, where he contributed to the process development of LYNX massive parallel cloning and sequencing technologies MegaClone, MegaSort and MPSS. Martin Welschof did his post-doctoral training at the German Cancer Research Center's Department for Recombinant Antibody Technology and the University of Heidelberg's Department of Transplantation Immunology. He has a Ph.D. (Dr.rer.nat.) in the field of recombinant antibody technology from the University of Bielefeld, Germany.

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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 9M from public and private sources since 2010. These include EUR 2.5M raised in the latest company round in December 2017. The latest 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.