Medivir – immunooncology

Birinapant: Mechanism of Action Animation

Medivir is a Swedish biotech company developing drugs for oncology. Our animation explains how some tumors form, why they don’t always get recognized by the immune system and how birinapant can solve this problem.



We’ve chosen a simplified 3D animation style – using 3D graphics, but mostly animating the story within one camera angle. The 3D elements show the dimensional character of tumors while reducing the complexity of the design and animation allows for showing cellular pathways in a way that is easy to understand (normally cellular pathways consist of very complex interactions, which are invisible to the human eye).

The dark blue background, teal, white, and pink accent colors used in the video, are based on the customer’s brand design and website.



Chemotherapy and radiotherapy work by killing cancer cells. However, not all patients benefit from these treatments.

Some cancer cells have developed molecular mechanisms to escape cancer therapy. One of these escape mechanisms involves the TNF receptor. The receptor is activated by a cytokine called TNF-alpha. TNF-alpha has two functions. In case of an infection or cancer, it starts an inflammatory response to help the cell survive. But in high concentrations, it can start a process called apoptosis, or programmed cell death, to eliminate cancer cells.

One reason for inefficient cancer therapy can be a “brake” on the TNF-alpha apoptosis pathway. This brake is formed by a protein called cIAP-1. The investigational agent birinapant can relieve this brake by binding to cIAP-1 and causing it to become degraded. Once the cIAP-1 brake is released, the TNF receptor is switched to activate apoptosis, which can increase the effects of cancer therapies.

But birinapant has a second mechanism that potentially makes it even more effective. The cIAP-1 protein can inhibit the activity of cells of the immune system. If birinapant removes cIAP-1, T-cells can become activated so that they can kill cancer cells. In addition, birinapant can cause the activated T-cells to to produce more TNF-alpha, leading to an increase in apoptosis of the cancer cells.

Recent advances in cancer therapy have been made using immune checkpoint antibodies to activate the immune system to attack cancer cells. Unfortunately, not all patients respond to these treatments, but through birinapant’s effects on the tumor and the immune system, Medivir is investigating whether it can increase the number of patients that receive a benefit from cancer therapy.

With its dual mode of action, Birinapant is a unique tool to potentially increase the effectiveness of other therapies.

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