UU Innovation

A new life science company is born

When Louise Dubois recognized the value of her research she applied to the UU Innovation Mentor4Research programme. During one year she will have the support of her mentor to refine and commercialise her idea – a safe and painless test for prostate cancer.

It was at an event organised by the medical graduate student group that Louise Dubois came into contact with UU Innovation.

”They helped me understand that it is not only the major pharmaceutical companies that create products and apply for patents. I and my colleagues can also do this”.

There are things left to do of course. Develop a business plan, vision and trademark. Contact investors. Sell the idea and make it commercial. An agenda that was previously completely unknown to Louise Dubois.

”That’s why it’s wonderful to have a mentor like Lena Söderström. Someone who has an eye on the industry, knows who I should talk to and teaches me how to communicate in these circles”.

Lena Söderström is CEO of Senzime and has worked 30 years in the Life Science industry. She knows how to raise capital, negotiate and can withstand adversity of all kinds.

”I noticed that Louise was a driven person who was ready to soak up information like a sponge. It feels great to help with networking and introductions but also other things like applying for a patent and starting a business”, says Lena Söderström.

"Pitch" in two minutes

This afternoon Louise Dubois will pitch her idea to the program's mentors. You have to make yourself understood and interesting in two minutes. Today it’s just practice. Next time it could be doctors, investors or lab managers who listen and ask critical questions. Louise Dubois practices her presentation again and again.

”Ten thousand men get prostate cancer in Sweden each year. Five thousand of them undergo surgery leading to incontinence, impotence and reduced quality of life. Four thousand of the operations are unnecessary. My name is Louise Dubois and I’m one of the founders of Exosome Medical. We have created a specific tool for identifying aggressive prostate cancer”.

Yes, she can succeed in balancing medically correct language and sales rhetoric.

”It is important to express yourself properly to the respective target group. We also want to get analytical laboratories on board. It is these who choose whether to buy into the different methods of analysis or not. But doctors are just as important, they can prescribe our method instead of a PSA test”.

As a mentor, it is Lena Söderström's role to both act as accelerator and brake.

“It's a challenge for me not to take the edge off any enthusiasm, but of course I have to point out all the barriers that exist. Much has to fall into place before you have a product on the market.”

Louise Dubois is aware of this. But her idea and choice of research on so-called prostasomes is timely. Prostasomes are a kind of extracellular vesicle. They are secreted by certain cells in the prostate and act as messengers between cells. Something that is both good and bad.

”In healthy people the prostasomes protect the sperm in the woman's genital tract so that they can survive attacks by the immune system. But in men over fifty, they can instead start protecting cancer cells”.

The new method involves detecting prostasomes in the blood using antibodies. The presence of prostasomes that have seeped out into the blood is a clear sign of cancer. It now remains to produce the right mix of antibodies.

”When we got the correct antibodies, we have the key to a test that can replace the current PSA test and annually save up to two billion in hospital costs only in Sweden”, says Louise Dubois hopefully,

Perhaps she and her team will soon consign the unreliable PSA tests to medical history.

Louise Dubois with her mentor Lena Söderström