D’Liver is a spin-off from the University of Tromsø, Norway. The services offered by D’Liver are based on >30 years of research done by Professor Bård Smedsrød. The commercial potential of D’Liver was examined by Norinnova Technology Transfer AS in collaboration with three students at the master program Business Creation and Entrepreneurship at Tromsø University Business School in 2010. D’Liver AS was established on January 7th 2011 by Norinnova Technology Transfer AS, Professor Bård Smedsrød, Kjetil H. Elvevold, and the three students Marsil Andelov Al-Mahamid, Mari Nilsen and Tage Skotvold. D’Liver was accepted as an incubator company in Incubator Tromsø and received establishing grants from Innovation Norway. PreeCap AS invested in D’Liver AS in June 2011 and in 2013 an investor team bought the company.
Founding team members
Inventor Prof. Bård H. Smedsrød
Prof. Smedsrød is head of Vascular Biology Research Group at Department of Medical Biology, University of Tromsø. He was head of Department of Medical Biology (about 200 employees) during 2005 – 2009, and took the organization through a reorganization that contributed greatly to turning serious deficit to a balanced economy. Smedsrød holds a Bachelor (cand.mag) from University of Oslo (1975) and a Master in cell biology (cand.real) from University of Tromsø in 1978, spent two years as research fellow at University of Michigan (1979-1981), moved to Uppsala in 1981 and defended his Ph.D. thesis at the Department of Medical Chemistry, University of Uppsala in 1984. He was employed there as associate professor until he moved to University of Tromsø in 1988 as senior scientist paid by the Norwegian Cancer Society, and became associate professor at the Department of Medical Biology in 1990. He was appointed full professor in cell biology at the Department of Medical Biology in 1993. Smedsrød has spent his entire research career studying the blood clearance function of liver. He discovered the physiological clearance function of the LSEC in the early 80s and has since then significantly increased our understanding of the uptake mechanisms of liver cells. This unique knowledge makes up the basis of D'Liver.
Co-Inventor Dr. Kjetil H. Elvevold
Dr. Elvevold wrote his master thesis on “Lysosomal enzymes in liver endothelial cells” and had Prof. Smedsrød as his supervisor. Elvevold continued with a Ph.D. on “Scavenger function of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells in vivo and in vitro” and then worked as a postdoctoral fellow on strategies to manipulate the uptake mechanisms of the liver sinusoidal endothelial cell.
Marsil Andelov Al-Mahamid, Mari Nilsen and Tage Skotvold got involved with D’Liver in 2010 through the master program Business Creation and Entrepreneurship at Tromsø University Business School. Together they wrote the master thesis “D’Liver: Market Ready and Market Needed. Planning a Viable Future”.
Norinnova Technology Transfer AS examined the commercial potential of D’Liver on behalf of University of Tromsø. Norinnova involved the master program Business Creation and Entrepreneurship and initiated the establishment of D'Liver.
Discovering the commercial potential
“During the mid-1980s, just a few years after I had discovered the important dual liver cell principle of blood clearance, I was asked by a drug company to work part time with them to help them determine the mechanism of uptake of intravenously administered tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). At the time this protein was "hot stuff" in the commercial development of hemolytic agents, and several commercial enterprises had started to explore tPA for its potential use as a better alternative to the existing fibrinolytic agents. The company wanted to develop tPA as a clot lysis biopharmaceutical, but struggled to find out why it was removed so effectively from the circulation by uptake in liver. I employed my expertise on liver scavenger cells and determined the mechanism of uptake of tPA, providing the company with key knowledge to increase the bioavailability of tPA by reducing its uptake by the liver. This was the first time I understood that my special knowledge on liver scavenger cells and their unique receptors might represent the solution to companies who needed to find out about the mechanism responsible for their very rapid uptake in the liver.
A few years ago I was contacted by another major international drug company who wanted advice and collaboration on enzymes that were tested for drug use. The drug worked excellently in isolated cell systems, but when administered into intact bodies it rapidly disappeared by uptake in the liver. Again I used my special expertise on the liver scavenger cells and was able to provide useful information as to the mechanism of uptake.
After this it occurred to me that I might just as well establish my own company that specializes on identifying and remedying the liver barrier, which is a common "killer" of many promising biopharmaceutical drug candidates. Accordingly, the company D'Liver was established in early 2011.”
- Professor Bård Smedsrød