Akseli Hemminki, MD, PhD
started studying cancer genetics in his second year of medical school at the age of 20. Following graduation, he moved to the US to learn about cancer gene therapy with oncolytic viruses, and then returned to Finland to specialize in clinical oncology and
He then set up a revolutionary individualized treatment program, the Advanced Therapy Access Program, where cancer patients beyond routine treatments were offered access to an individually tailored oncolytic virus therapy. Despite clinical success, the program was shut down and a legal case followed.
At 41, Dr. Hemminki has more than 2 decades of experience in translational cancer research and is now a professor of oncology at the University of Helsinki in Finland and father of 3 children. He has authored more than 200 scientific papers, founded 2 biotechnology companies and been involved in a dozen clinical trials.
The Valley of Death, the gap between research and clinical practices, is hard to bridge. It becomes impassable when the supervisory medical authority claims that advanced therapies are illegal to use as treatment in patients with incurable cancer.