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Separated by coma

Gliocure: from patent to start-up

In order to develop an effective treatment for glioblastoma (brain cancer), the young company Gliocure values research developed at the AU.  SATT Ouest Valorisation is standing by his side.

Joël Eyer, Claire Lépinoux-Chambaud et Louis-Marie Bachelot
Joël Eyer, Claire Lépinoux-Chambaud et Louis-Marie Bachelot
Glioblastoma is the most common and devastating cancer of the nervous system. Treatments for these brain tumours are cumbersome and not very effective. The median life expectancy is around 16 months (3 % survival at 5 years). The disease kills 200 000 people every year in the world, including nearly 15 000 in Europe and more than 2 000 in France.

Gliocure has decided to focus on this cancer. The start-up born in September 2016 will explore the potential of two patents, jointly-owned by the universities of Angers and McGill in Montreal. Many of these patents are based on the work of the neurobiologist Joël Eyer, Inserm research director, who headed the Neurobiology and Transgenesis Laboratory (LNBT) for 16 years and who is now a member of the Mint unit. In particular, he highlighted the interest of a peptide, a molecule comprising 24 amino acids, which blocks the formation of mitotic spindles. "It prevents the glioblastoma cancer cells from dividing, and therefore from spreading," summarises the Angevin researcher. "And it only gets into this type of cell, whereas other treatments go into all cells, including healthy ones, and fail to kill the glioblastoma".

Researcher/entrepreneur association

Convinced of the potential of his discoveries, Joël Eyer is also aware of its limits. Developing any drug requires time, money, know-how, a network..."I realised that it was better for me to join forces with an entrepreneur", in the person of Louis-Marie Bachelot. At the age of 40, the Angevin is going through his third experience with Gliocure in creating a company in the field of biotechnologies. Claire Lépinoux-Chambaud, 30 years old, PhD in neurosciences, completes the team for the R&D part.

Thanks to a maturation programme financed by SATT Ouest Valorisation, the young researcher has been working for 18 months on the non-regulatory preclinical phase. The effectiveness of the peptide, which is relatively easy to synthesise and therefore to produce, was tested on mice, rats and human cells. "With a single administration, the tumour mass is reduced by 60%," says Louis-Marie Bachelot.

Gliocure has already attracted the interest of potential investors and business angels. Recruitment is planned (chemical engineer, doctoral students). In total, nearly €2.5 million will be used over 3 years to find the optimal dose to be administered, to prove the non-toxicity of the product, to guarantee its production, and, to convince an industrial partner to test the peptide on humans. Five to six additional years of clinical development will be necessary to reach the end of the adventure. Too long for some patients. But there is hope.                                                                                        

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Technology transfer

Founded in 2012, as part of the future investment programme, the Technology Transfer Acceleration Company, SATT Ouest Valorisation's mission is to enhance the value of the results of public research in Brittany and Pays de la Loire. It is acting on behalf of four shareholders: Cornue Université Bretagne Loire - bringing together 22 institutions including the University of Angers - the CNRS, the IRD and the Caisse des Dépôts.

In addition to the protection of discoveries (patents), SATT guides the maturation of projects until their adjustment by companies, or helps start-ups blossom. Each time, the aim is the same one: enable innovations to arise from the laboratories and transform them into innovative products.