Life Sciences Catalyst beyond border
By Joe Panetta11:55 A.M.MAY 4, 2015
San Diego delegation and PACA partners outside the offices of Innate Pharma. — Biocom
(Editor's note: This is Part 2 of Biocom CEO Joe Panetta's return trip to southeastern France with a delegation from Biocom and French BioBeach, to strengthen the partnership between the region and Southern California. You can read Part 1 of the trip to Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, or PACA, here)
For two days since arriving here in Marseille to continue our Biocom and French BioBeach delegation trip, we have been awed by the growth of this life science cluster within the second largest city in France. We have visited clinical research hospitals and life science parks, an incubator and biotech companies including one that has been quite successful, as well as met with regional political and business leaders and potential partners.
It has been a whirlwind two days in which our hosts and Biocom partners – Eurobiomed and the South Bio Alliance – have gone to extraordinary lengths to extend their hospitality and a unique perspective on all that this region can offer in the life sciences arena.
We began yesterday with a visit to the Luminy campus of Marseille Immunopol, the subcluster for immunology in Marseille. It has unique positioning for immunology as a key technology here and has created an alliance that brings together all of its stakeholders within a collaborative ecosystem for innovation in immunology. The Immunopole includes hospitals, research institutes, academic labs and biotech companies.
Marseille has a 40-year history of discovery and development in immunology beginning with Beckman Coulter Innotec which led to 60 spin-offs and other start-ups such as Innate Pharma, now a very successful company that we visited within the Immunopole. Innate has raised $185 million and has completed $1.8 billion in deals since 2006 including its most recent with AstraZeneca worth $250 million in initial payment with milestones worth up to $1.3 billion.
A second company that we talked to was HalioDx, a spin-off of Qiagen Marseille that has a unique biomarker portfolio for use potentially by large pharma in developing companion diagnostics.
Also within the Luminy Park is the Association Grand Luminy, the sole biotech incubator in the south of France which has operated since 1985. It has 2 missions: to sustain the local economy and to create and grow companies. Since 2009 Grand Luminy has also run a Biotech Nursery to host start ups from the incubator within a structure that includes support services, an entrepreneurship manager, strategic partnership development, patenting, communications management and corporate identity.
To obtain a better understanding of the ability of the Marseille cluster to conduct clinical trials we visited AP-HM, the 3rd largest university hospital in France built on the concept of combining a high-technology hospital with research training. The hospital is now running more than 300 clinical trials.
The day ended with expert presentations on human resources management, drug regulation in France and company financing at the 400-year old Palais de la Bourse, which is now home to our hosts for the afternoon and evening, the International Chamber of commerce of Marseille.
The leaders of the Regional Council, Stephane Richard of French BioBeach and I exchanged greetings and addressed guests representing life science companies, the media and business leaders followed by a networking event held to welcome our delegation. While the event lasted well into the evening we knew that we could not end the day in this great city without once again sampling the remarkable bouillabaisse that is so expertly prepared within a few great establishments here, and at 10 PM in the evening we descended upon Le Rhul Restaurant. By midnight we were satiated and exhausted, and returned to our hotel.
Today's schedule began even earlier in the morning with a visit to the IPC Paoli Calmettes cancer treatment center. It is one of a group of cancer treatment and research centers created by the great French President Charles de Gaulle after World War II, of which there are 20 in France.
IPC Paoli is unique in that it includes a new unit called IPC Drug Discovery which works primarily in technologies that can detect blood levels of antibodies in an attempt to better identify weaknesses of cancer cells and DNA repair mechanisms. It also has a strong epigenetics group and a group working on metastasis. The unit is trying to find partners in pharma and biotech to conduct Phase I trials and to establish start up companies.
Investment funding is available in Marseille as we learned in a presentation on PACA Investissmente, which sponsors a capital investment fund of 19.45 million Euro,managed by Thurenne Capital. Since its first investment in 2011, it has made investments in 38 companies and created 32 partnerships in the PACA region. To apply for funding a company must be early stage and incorporated in the region.
This trip would not have been complete without a visit to NeuroService, a contract research firm located outside Marseille in Aix-en-Provence. The company has ties to San Diego as the region's first Biocom member firm here, and does 60 percent of its business in the US. NeuroService specializes in pharmacological assays based on electrophysiological recordings of acute brain and spinal cord slices, and cultured neurons to support early phases of CNS and pain R&D programs.
Our second long day in the region ended with an informative tour of Aix-en-Provence city center and a farewell dinner with our most cordial hosts. It has been a truly incredible visit here from the standpoint of experiencing just how similar this area is to San Diego in its life science collaboration, diversity and innovation.
A two-year gap in visiting our partners here perhaps provided a better perspective on their progress, but we talked over dinner about the opportunity to work together more closely in the future as the bridge we are building attracts more traffic.
SOURCE: UT SAN DIEGO
12:05 P.M.APRIL 29, 2015
(Editor's note: Biocom, the San Diego-based life science trade group, has long cultivated ties with biotech in other nations. Biocom CEO Joe Panetta describes the group's latest mission, a return trip to France.)
Two years ago I reported to U-T San Diego readers on the first trip by Biocom, French BioBeach and our members to Nice and Marseilles to explore partnership opportunities between life science clusters in the two regions of southern California and the Cotes d'Azur/Provence. That visit was eye-opening for all of us who participated, as we gained a great appreciation for the entrepreneurial environment and the long history of life science company formation and success, as well as the standout experience here is the conduct of clinical trials for oncology products.
The relationship was furthered last year as representatives of both regions including Biocom, French BioBeach, and what is now known as the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur South Bioalliance
signed a formal partnership agreement during the BIO 2014 convention in San Diego.
We returned to Nice and Marseilles in the spirit of our formal partnership this week with some past participants from San Diego, including Biocom Board Member and lead patent counsel at WSGR, Jeffrey Guise, Mike Honeysett of Acea and me, as well as new delegates such as the CEOs of Flow Paradigm, OncioMed, Abreos Biosciences (with one of his scientists) and CVAC Systems – a very inquisitive and engaged group who have asked probing questions of our hosts here while thus far expressing enthusiasm about what we have seen on the first part of our trip in Nice.
Here's an update on the state of life science in this region in 2015 to provide a bit of perspective and comparison with southern California.
The industry here is represented by 400 companies employing 10,000 people. Leading companies here include Beckman Coulter, Galderma, Sanofi-Aventis and Nicox. It is France's second largest center for clinical trials with 30,000 doctors and 39,000 hospital beds. It is a center of convergence of biotechnology, aquatic technologies, IT and wireless communications and tourism, and it has 6 universities including the largest in France in Marseilles (if this all sounds familiar it is because it is a mirror image of San Diego).
Two years ago I reported that what struck me most about this region is its advanced experience in the field of clinical medicine. This was reinforced yesterday on our visits to the Centre Antoine Lacassagne, a regional cancer center that is close to completing a synchro-cyclotron proton therapy device that is the first of its kind in Europe, and to the national Alzheimer's pilot Institut Claude Pompidou for a presentation of some leading research projects of non-drug therapies to enhance cognitive function in patients through the use of IT-based solutions.
The device at Lacassagne is one-fourth the weight of previous devices and uses 1/8 the electricity with a new dose administration technology called PBS – pencil beam scanning which is intensity- modulated to provide much higher "conformation" to tumor shape than past devices.
We followed up with presentations by lead scientific researchers at the Institute of Biology Valrose within the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, an international research center that addresses fundamental topics in developmental biology with links to associated diseases such as cancer, diabetes and obesity and utilizing various scientific approaches such as genetics, cell signaling and integrative physiology carried out on a wide range of model organisms.
The impressive presentations on human adipose stem cells and obesity, on generation of functional beta cells from alternative pancreatic cell subtypes, on a flow cytometry iBV platform and on experimental histology in development and disease drew comments and questions by our group regarding the competitive nature of the work with what is being done in San Diego.
Our long day ended with all of our companies making quick pitch presentations to an invited group of Nice life science company representatives at the Team Cote d'Azur office.
Today (Tuesday) began with a legal presentation on doing business in France by the FIDAL law group ( the most popular question being whether it is actually possible to terminate an employee in France) followed by a day of visits to some of Nice's leading life science companies.
Two that were of particular relevance to our San Diego group were Integra Life which is a device company based in New Jersey and producing brain catherization and mapping products here, and TxCell which is developing T cell immunotherapies for severe chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as Crohn's Disease. The latter drew questions from the entire group because the technology was an area of familiarity to many of our participants but even more so because all agreed that the research rivaled what they had seen in immunotherapy product development in San Diego.
Another long day ended with our transfer to Marseilles and a late-evening reception hosted by the Eurbiomed-Provence Promotion Team. We'll spend the next two days here in Marseilles further examining the many potential opportunities for our southern California companies.
SOURCE: UT SAN DIEGO
Alex is a sweet 9 year old child who has endured 4 years of extensive medical tests and procedures that a child his age should not have to suffer. He was born a normal healthy baby, but in the course of the past 5 years a mysterious neurodegenerative disease has cruelly robbed Alex of his ability to walk, stand, use his hands, speak and chew. He is wheelchair bound and completely reliant on others for his daily care. Though physically and verbally challenged, Alex remains remarkably cognizant. He developed uncontrollable and painful muscle spasms and recently experienced a seizure. As the disease continues to progress, we relentlessly push ahead in our search for a diagnosis so that we can begin the journey of seeking treatment for Alex. Caroline Cheung (Alex’s mother)
There is a hidden epidemic – millions of people living with perplexing illnesses that elude definition and treatment. Undiagnosed: Medical Refugees is a medical documentary about what it is like to exist in a constant state of unknown, struggling with undiagnosed illnesses and rare diseases, and existing as medical refugees in a modern health care system. The film “Undiagnosed” aspires to bring objectivity to this controversial and timely subject by interviewing doctors, medical administrators, and people, both children and adults, who have the misfortune of suffering without a diagnosis. Research and professional opinions combine with gripping stories into an incredible narrative that showcases the strength of the human spirit and the need for change in our medical system.
Photos by Cynthia Sinclair
San Diego Regional EDC’s mission is to maximize the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness.
BIO 2014 San Diego – Cocktail with France
Invest in France Agency / Ubifrance, with the Consulate of France in Los Angeles
Sunday, June 22, 2014 from 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM (PDT)
Please join the Invest in France Agency and UBIFRANCE teams, our sponsors WSGR, Bank of the West and Total Biofuels, the FACC San Diego and French BioBeach
in a cocktail/ networking event gathering French, American and international participants to the BIO 2014 convention!
We will welcome you in the beautiful premises of our partner and sponsor WSGR in Carmel Valley, north of San Diego.
If you do not have a car, 2 buses will pick-up participants
– at the San Diego Convention Center at 4:30pm
– at Co-Merge, 330 A street (x54th), at 6:00pm ; this late pick-up will allow those of you attending the EAEC event “San Diego Meets Europe” to join us
Return buses back to San Diego downtown will depart from WSGR at 7:30 and 8:30pm