The 26th of October was a memorable day for the immunology community that was reunited by EuroBioMed, in the hemicycle of Marseille Provence Metropolis. We had the pleasure of welcoming more than a hundred guests on site, including our eminent speakers who contributed to the success of this exceptional and well-defined meeting, under the theme “Immunology, looking to the future of medical sciences”.
EuroBioMed made sure to invite and yield the floor to the various key players of the growing ecosystem, that are invested in immunotherapy, namely international biopharmaceutical companies, promising start-ups, distinguished academic researchers and renowned clinicians. The goal was not only to offer a whole picture and take stock of the current advanced knowledge in the field of immunology, but also to foster as many interactions as possible between stakeholders and catalyze the emergence of potentially solid innovative collaborations.
Actually, the program started with an institutional overview, which shed light on the major roles of EuroBioMed and its private and public partners, located in Marseille, like Aix-Marseille University,Hospital Universities, Paoli-Calmettes Institute, Innate pharma and Veracyte (formerly HalioDx), to name a few. The latter constitue an immense and unique continuum of excellence, which was presented by Doctor Daniel OLIVE (M.D., PhD), through the “Marseille Immunology Biocluster-MIB” project.
The audience was then captivated by the speech of the winner of the Robert Koch Prizein 2016, Professor Alberto MANTOVANI (M.D., PhD), who shared his internationally recognized expertise on the role of the innate immune system and inflammation in the development of cancer and Covid-19.
Following this contextual opening, the first axis focused on « Innovative technologies to discover – derisk & accelerate ».
“Progress in science depends on new techniques, new discoveries and new ideas, probably in that order” – Sydney BRENNER (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2002))
The molecular biologist and immunologist, Doctor Rafael J ARGÜELLO (PhD, CNRS Researcher, CIML) chose to quote Sydney BRENNER, before introducing SCENITH™, which is a revolutionary method to functionally profile multiple cells types, like immune cells. It has already received great feedback from all over the world ! Other than his advanced contribution to immunometabolism research, he expressed his committment to offer a real hope to patients through diagnostics, by collaborating with hospitals and labs and producing spin-offs for standardized metabolic profiling.
Duringt his session, the sophisticated services and methods of the 2-year-old french startup, Deeptope, were explained by its Co-founder and Scientific Director, Doctor Raphael SIEROCKI (PhD). Other than epitope and paratope mapping, they propose optimized humanization services.
Next, the Scientific Director of MI-mAbs, Doctor François ROMAGNE (PhD, Pr. in immuno-technologies) gave us a general overview about their acquired Berkeley Lights Beacon® system, which has helped the emerging CRO make a significant leap forward in terms of depth and time of screening and validation of new therapeutic antibodies against cancer and inflammatory diseases.
The dive kept going with the second session « Derisk & optimize clinical trials in immune-based therapies ».
We had the honor to start it with the Director of the prestigious« IHU – Méditerranée Infection », Professor Pierre-Edouard FOURNIER(M.D., PhD), who presented to us the real and growing immunology needs of an infectious disease Institute, ranging from human ressources to novel approaches and advanced scientific data and knowledge.
Talking about data, Novadiscovery Team leader Modeling & simulation / Biomodeling, Doctor Alexander KULESZA (PhD), introduced to us their in silico models and applications, supporting in vivo, in vitro and clinical research. He presented their clinical trials simulation platform, Jinkō®, which represents a solution to de-risk and accelerate the R&D activities of biotech and pharma companies and academic research centers.
in silico analysis is a rather novel approach that is not mastered by all the professionals of the pharmaceutical field, but it is gaining more fame and acknowledgement. One thing for sure, the Professor of Pharmacokinetics at Aix-Marseille University, Doctor Joseph CICCOLINI (PharmD, PhD, COMPO (Computational pharmacology and clinicaloncology)), succeeded in convincing more minds of the importance of the model-informed approach and the urgent need to avoid the flat-dosing models and random therapy combinations. To make a long and complex story short and simple, it is all about finding the perfect blend and dosing, in order to increase both the safety and the efficacy of personalized immuno-oncology treatments.
The final part of our one-day meeting was dedicated to « New treatment opportunities at clinical stage ». The program would not have been complete without a glimpse at the internationally renowned biotechnology expertise of French R&D leaders, namely the highly-specialized company, ImCheck Therapeutics and the two pharmaceutical giants, Sanofi and Servier.
The Preclinical Research Director of Imcheck-Therapeutics, Doctor Aude DE GASSART (PhD) took the stage to lay out the preliminary results and breakthroughs of their immuno-oncology clinical trials, targetting novel key checkpoint immunomodulators (Butyrophilin (BTN) and BTN-like (BTNL) molecules), with a focus on gamma delta (γ9δ2) T cells and ICT01, as a first-in-class, anti-BTN3A monoclonal antibody.
With a big budget comes big responsibility, which is why Sanofi has an ongoing clear clinical research strategy in precision oncology, with a versatile toolbox of modalities and new technologies. According to Sanofi Senior Principal Scientist and Flow group head, Doctor Angélique BIANCOTTO (PhD), the goal of their R&D subsidary is to create a synergestic discovery pipline in a back-translational approach in the hope to change the practice in the field of oncology.
Because patients living with chronic autoimmune diseases (AIDs), like primary Sjögren’s syndrome (pSS) deserve as much attention, Doctor Jeanne ALLINNE (PhD), Head of Immuno-Inflammation Research at Servier, highlighted the fact that their biopharmaceutical company, along with OSE Immunotherapeutics are oiling the wheels for computational precision medicine to developrational and efficient combination therapies. She added that they are also applying in silico analysis extensively on other types of AIDs, like Pemphigus vulgaris, and prioritizing subpopulation with dominant biological drivers, in order to garantee promising outcomes.
True to our motto,« TOGETHER, LET’S TAKE UP THE MAJOR HEALTH CHALLENGES », our Innovation Director, Doctor Emmanuel LE BOUDER (PhD) reminded the participants, by the end of the event, that EuroBioMed’s ultimate purpose is to stimulate new ideas for potential collaborative projects and help concretize them in the welcoming and fertile ground of the South of France. Thanks to the support of our public and private sponsors, our healthtech competitiveness cluster has proved once again that Marseille is more than just one of the greatest old port cities in the world. Marseille is also a city of innovation, which continues to shape an informed patient-oriented vision for the future of the pharmaceutical industry.
Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis, The Department of Bouches-du-Rhône, PACA Region,
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