12.01.2018 - 09:00

UPM promotes innovations in cancer research via Biomedicum Helsinki Foundation

UPM promotes new innovations in disease research by making a significant donation to Biomedicum Helsinki Foundation. The donation made by UPM is targeted especially at cancer research based on application of cell models. These models help to investigate pathogenetic mechanisms of diseases and how cancer medications work. With new cell models, it will be possible to develop even more effective treatments and cures for serious diseases in the future.

“UPM’s donation provides the Foundation with a wonderful new opportunity to support young researchers, and it reflects the increasing collaboration with corporations in cancer research and personalised medicine. This brings great opportunities to Meilahti Hospital area and, with the Comprehensive Cancer Center Finland, to the whole of Finland”, says Professor Tomi Mäkelä, Executive Manager of the Biomedicum Helsinki Foundation.

In cancer treatment, researchers continue to make successful progress. There have been promising test results in the fields of biomedicine and personalised medicine. However, there is still great demand for new information and solutions. “Innovations and responsibility are important subjects for UPM. We want to encourage and support researchers’ work via the Biomedicum Helsinki Foundation and contribute to creating new innovations in a field that has broad impact on individuals and society as a whole”, says Jyrki Ovaska, Executive Vice President of Technology at UPM.


Ongoing collaboration between FIMM and UPM Biomedicals

A collaborative research project between FIMM and UPM Biomedicals started in 2016. It focuses on growing patient derived cancer cell models in a three-dimensional culture using UPM’s new biomaterial, GrowDex®, and studying their drug responses.

“One of the key challenges in experimental drug testing is being able to grow patient -derived cells in a laboratory in an environment that resembles the human body,” says Senior Researcher Vilja Pietiäinen, the project head at FIMM in Olli Kallioniemi’s laboratory.

Unlike conventional genetics -based approaches for individualized systems medicine, group’s strategy combines genomic profiling with direct testing of efficacies of drugs in patient -derived cells. Central to the success of this approach is to grow and test the patient derived cells in conditions mimicking the tumor microenvironment. Currently, the project focuses on urological cancers and ovarian cancer.

FIMM team has been able to grow patient -derived cancer cells as spheroids in GrowDex. The cell spheroids are further studied by genomics, imaged by microscope to investigate the expression of cancer biomarkers, and tested for the drug sensitivities. The ultimate aim is to understand how the cancer cells of a particular patient react to different treatments.      

“We foresee that co-operation with UPM can help us build better cell models also for the needs of personalised medicine. The development of treatment strategies and technologies for personalized medicine require team science and collaboration between academy, health care, pharma and industry, Vilja Pietiäinen concludes.


For further information about the donation, please contact:

Vice President Juuso Konttinen, UPM Biochemicals, juuso.konttinen@upm.com, tel. +358 40 531 7405

Professor Tomi Mäkelä, Biomedicum Helsinki Foundation, tomi.makela@helsinki.fi, tel. +358 50 528 6128 

Last updated: 12.01.2018 - 08:59