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
Curtana pharmaceuticals awarded NIH small business technology transfer grant to adavance glioblastoma cancer therapy
Curtana Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held, preclinical stage pharmaceutical company developing the first targeted small molecule therapeutics for glioblastoma (GBM) and other brain cancers, announced today that it has been awarded $225,000 by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The STTR grant follows closely on the heels of a $7.6 million product development grant funded by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). Collaborating with Curtana on the STTR grant as Principal Investigator is Professor Santosh Kesari, Director of Neuro-Oncology at Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego and co-founder of Curtana whose research, utilizing a novel combined pharmacophore-based small molecule design methodology, has discovered several candidate compounds.The joint project will involve important in vivo pre-clinical studies designed to validate the efficacy of a small molecule inhibitor of OLIG2 function in GBM. Typically, OLIG2 is not active in normal brain tissue and is not found in normal tissues outside the central nervous system. However, it is highly expressed in all diffuse gliomas and nearly 100% of glioma cancer stem cells (CSCs) that are positive for the CD133 stem cell marker. The relevance for therapy derives from the finding that over-expression of OLIG2 drives turmorigenesis and promotes resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.“The STTR grant award reinforces the promise of our technology platform and approach to treating glioblastoma,” stated Gregory Stein, M.D., M.B.A., Chief Executive Officer, Curtana Pharmaceuticals. “Both the financial support of the NIH grant and the collaboration with Dr. Kesari and his team, a prominent cancer research group, will accelerate the development of our therapy for brain cancer patients who currently have limited therapeutic options.”Current treatments have evolved little over the last two decades for GBM, which has a median survival of less than 15-months and a five-year survival rate of less than 10%. GBM is the most common and most aggressive of the malignant primary brain tumors in adults and one of a group of tumors referred to as gliomas. Incidence in the U.S. is approximately 10,000 cases per year. Conventional therapeutic approaches for GBM often include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, which target the tumor bulk, but have limited effect on the cancer stem cells (CSCs) that drive tumor growth and recurrence.About Curtana Pharmaceuticals
Curtana Pharmaceuticals, founded in 2013, is a privately-held, preclinical-stage pharmaceutical company currently headquartered in San Diego, California. The company focuses on the development of novel, first-in-class, small molecule therapeutics targeting cancer stem cells in the central nervous system for the treatment of glioblastoma and other cancers. Curtana’s OLIG2 inhibitors will be the only adjuvant treatment for nearly all gliomas, including high-grade glioblastomas, which specifically targets the cancer stem cells and is a potent radiosensitizer. For more information, visit www.curtanapharma.com. The grant reported in this press release was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R1CA186435. The grant will finance 100% of the proposed project.
The content of this release is solely the representation of Curtana Pharmaceuticals and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
This press release source is PR Buzz.
TxCell, with its head office in Sophia Antipolis, has just announced that it has raised €16.2M after its floatation on the French stock exchange.
The company, specializing in immunotherapy for the treatment of chronic inflammatory auto-immune diseases, was supported by the company’s key shareholders, Auriga Partners, Seventure and Innobio and by Bpifrance Participations who subscribed to the capital increase for the amounts of €5.7M and €8.1M respectively.
TxCell makes this type of innovative cell therapy economically viable for the first time. Using the patient’s own cells it treats chronic and severe inflammatory and auto-immune diseases. “TxCell’s listing on Euronext in Paris is a major step in accelerating the company’s development and its next-generation cell-therapies”, confirmedDamian Marron, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, in a press release.
This new type of treatment could “change the life of thousands of refractory patients suffering from inflammatory auto-immune diseases such as Crohn’s disease” he added.
Source: Team Cote d’Azur
Due to the rising success of our transfection products, OZ Biosciences is now opening its US office in San Diego, CA.
It is an exciting opportunity for OZ Biosciences to expand its worldwide representation that will enable our North American customers to benefit from a new level of services through OZ Biosciences Inc.
Customers in America can directly order through OZ Biosciences Inc.
The US team at our new office location will be pleased to serve you with the quality and service you can expect.
Technical Question : techUSA@ozbiosciences.com
Order : orderUSA@ozbiosciences.com
French Bio-Beach gathers three different communities:
* The San Diego biotech community
* The French biotech community
* French scientists working in the San Diego area
Through French Bio-Beach, all three communities stand to benefit from a tighter collaboration:
* Increased international visibility to investors and entrepreneurs for the San Diego biotech community
* Access to sources of capital and exposure to a proven biotech start-up climate for French biotech companies
* Helping French scientists find job opportunities back at home or in San Diego