About

Valo Therapeutics (Valo Tx)

is a spin-out company from the IVTLab at 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 in cancer and infectious disease. Valo Tx’s technology uniquely combines the best qualities of several distinct clinically proven immunotherapy concepts – oncolytic virus therapy, peptide vaccination and viral vector-based immunotherapy.  Our technology platform is able to deliver many different antigens through coating the surface of a wide range of vectors, including but not limited to adenoviruses, enveloped viruses and bacteria

Technology

Valo Tx’s proprietary technology allows the binding of disease-targeting peptides to the surface of oncolytic or infectious disease vectors, thereby eliciting an enhanced T-cell driven immune response to destroy the targeted tumor or pathogen. The disease associated peptides are easily and rapidly combined with the vector by leveraging electrostatic interactions and membrane penetrating peptides rather than through generating disease antigens by genetically engineering the vector. This method enables the rapid creation of multiple vector-based immunotherapies that promise to provide lasting immunity to many different cancer types and pathogens. This approach also addresses the need for rapidly adaptable disease-specific and even personalised therapies. In infectious disease, Valo Tx’s vectors can, for example, deliver coronavirus associated proteins common across the coronavirus family to create a pan-Coronavirus vaccine as a potential solution to the current and future global pandemics.

Our team

Paul G Higham
Paul G Higham
Chief Executive Officer
Biography

Paul G Higham

Chief Executive Officer

Paul G Higham

Paul G Higham, Chief Executive Officer, is a seasoned healthcare industry expert with extensive leadership experience in both large pharmaceutical and biotech companies. He has over 15 years C-Suite Biotech company experience. During the last 10 years he has been CEO of two immuno-oncology development-stage companies. In more detail:

He was Chief Executive Officer of Glycotope GmbH a glycobiology company focussing on immuno-therapeutics in oncology from 2016 to 2017 and before that CEO at Immatics Biotechnologies from 2008 to 2015. Through his leadership at Immatics, the company developed a number of peptide-based immunotherapies and has become one of the leading T-cell focused cancer immunotherapy companies. Previously, he served as Director Commercial Development at Ark Therapeutics Group plc where he was responsible for commercial strategy and all business development activities. In addition, he was in charge of establishing the operations and adenovirus gene-based medicine production facilities of Ark Therapeutics in Finland (Kuopio). Before joining Ark Therapeutics in 2001, Paul G Higham worked as International Commercial Vice President for GI, Metabolic and Pain at GlaxoWellcome plc/GSK, where he was responsible for all aspects of international commercial strategy. Prior to that he held various sales and marketing positions with increasing responsibilities with Bayer AG becoming General Manager of Bayer Pharmaceuticals for Sweden and Denmark. He holds an honours degree in Applied Biology.

Paul G Higham
Sari Pesonen
Sari Pesonen (PhD)
Chief Scientific Officer
Biography

Sari Pesonen (PhD)

Chief Scientific Officer

Sari Pesonen

Sari Pesonen, Chief Scientific Officer (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
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
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
Dr Lukasz Kuryk
Lukasz Kuryk (PhD)
VP Translational and Clinical Science
Biography

Lukasz Kuryk (PhD)

VP Translational and Clinical Science

Dr Lukasz Kuryk

Lukasz Kuryk, VP Translational and Clinical Science, holds a PhD in biopharmaceutics/oncolytic virotherapy from University of Helsinki, Finland. He also earned his MBA diploma from the Institute of Computer Science PAN, Poland and Woodbury School of Business, UT, USA. Dr Kuryk brings experience in immuno-oncology and immuno-virotherapy, knowledge of preclinical, translational and early-stage clinical drug development in oncology (Phase I and II). Before joining Valo Therapeutics, he worked for last 10 years in clinical stage immuno-oncology companies Targovax (Director, Clinical Science) and Oncos Therapeutics (Research Scientist), on both pre-clinical research and clinical studies utilizing oncolytic vectors and peptide vaccines for cancer treatment. Mr Kuryk also worked at the Institute of Biomedical Research ‘’Alberto Sols’’, Spain, the Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Poland. He was also a visiting researcher at the Regional WHO/Europe at the Robert Koch Institute, Germany, Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), Spain, and University of Padova, Italy where conducing numerous research projects in the field of immuno-oncology and virology. Dr Kuryk is an Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Public Health, Poland, being responsible for several research projects in the field of immunotherapy. Lukasz is a Polish citizen and resides in Finland.

Dr Lukasz Kuryk
Matthew Vaughan
Matthew Vaughan (PhD)
Business Operations Director
Biography

Matthew Vaughan (PhD)

Business Operations Director

Matthew Vaughan

Matthew Vaughan, Business Operations Director, 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 seven peer-reviewed research papers and has received funding support from the Royal Society of New Zealand, NASA, and the European Science Foundation. Matthew joined Valo Therapeutics shortly after the company was founded, to assist the team across all aspects of the business.

Matthew Vaughan
Leena Ylosmaki
Leena Ylösmäki (PHD)
Director Pre-clinical Development
Biography

Leena Ylösmäki (PHD)

Director Pre-clinical Development

Leena Ylosmaki

Leena Ylösmäki, Director of Pre-clinical Development, has over 15 years of experience in the fields of basic and applied virology and cancer research. During her academic career, she has studied various different viruses including Influenza A, vaccinia and adenoviruses. Before joining Valo Therapeutics, Leena worked as a PhD researcher at the university of Helsinki where she designed and developed various oncolytic viruses for cancer immunotherapy. Leena earned her PhD in virology from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki.

Leena Ylosmaki
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 tasked 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
Hanne Cojoc
Hanne Cojoc (M.Sc. Tech)
Technical Scientist
Biography

Hanne Cojoc (M.Sc. Tech)

Technical Scientist

Hanne Cojoc

Hanne Cojoc, Technical Scientist, has extensive experience in bio-technical laboratory work in both the clinical and pre-clinical settings. She was formerly a Department Coordinator at HUSLAB Laboratories in Finland and has vast experience in research environments such as Tampere University and the University of Helsinki's Centre of Excellence in Stem Cell Metabolism (where she conducted her Master’s thesis research). As a former Product specialist at Revenio Group’s Oscare Medical, she gained several years of experience in healthcare technology, ranging from quality assurance to marketing and software testing. She holds an M.Sc. (Tech) in Tissue Engineering from Tampere University, Finland. 

Hanne Cojoc
Erkko Ylosmaki
Erkko Ylösmäki (PhD)
Scientific Consultant
Biography

Erkko Ylösmäki (PhD)

Scientific Consultant

Erkko Ylosmaki

Erkko Ylösmäki, Scientific Consultant, 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

Board of Directors

Matti Hautsalo
Matti Hautsalo
Chairman of the Board
Biography

Matti Hautsalo

Chairman of the Board

Matti Hautsalo

Matti Hautsalo is a Director at Bentmind Development, which is an investor and 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 optimisation, 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 an 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
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
Paul Porter
Dr. Paul Porter
Member of the Board
Biography

Dr. Paul Porter

Member of the Board

Paul Porter

Associate Professor Paul Porter (MBBS, FRACP), Director, is the founder 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 is an experienced medical researcher, lecturer, director of training and paediatric physician at two major paediatric hospitals in Western Australia. He leads an established a research unit specialising in novel biometric diagnostic technology and algorithm development, with active programs targeting respiratory disease, antenatal care and mental health disorders in children and adolescents. He is the Chair of the Ramsay Health Care Human Research and Ethics Committee for Western and South Australia.

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

Paul Porter
MBZ
Mai-Britt Zocca (PhD)
Member of the Board
Biography

Mai-Britt Zocca (PhD)

Member of the Board

MBZ

Mai-Britt Zocca, PhD is Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IO Biotech. She has participated in founding and co-founding of several biotech spinouts. Dr. Zocca has more than 18 years of experience in the biotech field especially focusing on translational/clinical immune oncology with development of immunotherapies for cancer diseases. She is a member of the BoD of DANSK BIOTEK and has held several executive positions in the industry. Dr. Zocca holds a PhD in tumor immunology and a Master Sc. In Biochemistry. She received her PhD from the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Copenhagen, and the NIH, National Cancer Institute (NCI), Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

MBZ
David Hinton
David Hinton
Member of the Board
Biography

David Hinton

Member of the Board

David Hinton

David is an experienced executive in the ASX listed environment. He is currently CFO and Company Secretary of Empired Ltd (ASX: EPD) an international IT services provider a position he has held since 2016.  Prior to that he was CFO and Company Secretary of Amcom Telecommunications Ltd (ASX: AMM) since 2008 until taken over by Vocus Communications in 2015. In these positions David has played a key role in the implementation of systems and processes to ensure that financial information is accurate and timely so that commercial decisions can be made in a robust manner. This has enhanced the ability of these two companies to grow in a scalable and sustainable manner. During his time at Amcom it grew from a small ISP in the period, post the de-regulation of the telco industry, to being a true challenger brand by 2015. With the explosion in the demand for data, internet connectivity and Cloud, Amcom built an extensive last mile nationwide fibre network with 10 data centres and developed many adjacent services.  David had a key role in ensuring that the organic and inorganic growth was appropriately funded and that acquisitions were suitably integrated. David also oversaw the legal, compliance and regulatory functions at Amcom a role he also undertakes at Empired. 

David also has extensive corporate experience and has been heavily involved in numerous M&A transactions, IPO’s, and capital and debt raisings. In his role as Company Secretary, he is very familiar with the workings of Boards and governance matters. Prior to 2008, David held senior positions at the diversified industrial Futuris Corporation Ltd and prior to that worked in London and was a Manager at Ernst & Young. He holds a Bachelor of Business degree, is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and New Zealand, Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and a Graduate of the Governance Institute of Australia.

David Hinton

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